Written by Jen Sobczak, FFH Guest
“At the beginning of April, my husband and I were ready to throw our hands up in defeat. Even though my husband had a good paying job, we had no evictions and didn’t owe money to landlords, we kept getting denied or overlooked every place we applied. We were throwing money at hotels so we had a place to sleep. Two of our daughters were staying at my sister’s house so they could continue to go to school. Sometimes my husband even had to sleep in the car at his work while I was at my mom’s in Thornton. Most days we were depressed, even though we are people who always try to find the positive in every situation.
I had our intake meeting with Sue on a Friday and we joined the program that Sunday. We were one of the fortunate families who didn’t not have to wait on the waiting list. I didn’t realize then, but we got LUCKY.
We were nervous. We didn’t know what to expect. We were afraid we were going to be judged and the volunteers were going to look down on us. I’ll never forget what Nathan had asked, ” so we have to be homeless and we can’t have a social life?” To his surprise and mine the people in the program became apart of our social life. After our first dinner, most of our fears were gone.
One of our favorite parts of the program was dinner. It always felt like a family dinner. The volunteers poured their hearts and souls into making dinner for us, and you could tell. They loved to come and sit with us and talk. Not always about being homeless. Most of the time the conversations were light. Something you would have with friends and neighbors. The volunteers also would be there before and after dinner to play with the kids. Sometimes they would have activities to play, books to read, or just to help with homework. The volunteers helped a lot to make us feel comfortable in the program.
Everyone involved with FFH was wonderful. But there was a few people that stood out to our family. First, of course, is Sue Peterson. She is a very loving, caring, compassionate, understanding person. She would always listen to you and your fears. She is a big cheerleader for all the families to succeed. We never felt pushed, but guided through our journey. The second person is Sue’s wonderful assistant, Mary Talarico. Her past and present struggles has made her one of the most relatable people in the program. She becomes an instant friend when you first meet her. We have seen her go above and beyond for all the families. It doesn’t matter if they are in the program, on the waiting list, or no longer homeless. She has put together birthday parties for the kids, put meals together for families, help get funds to fix cars, found activities for the kids to do, help get furniture for families new houses, and will give a ride to whoever needs it. The kids absolutely love her! Anytime she walks into a room they scream “Mary!!!!”. The third person is Gus. He is a member of the Mennonite Church, and a huge part of the day center. I had surgery while in the program and he made sure I had a place to recover. He found a bed, stayed with me during the day, and helped out with the kids. He always makes sure there is food out at the day center for families to eat. Most of time he won’t even let you lift a finger. He will make you sit down and he will make it for you. He has a huge smile on his face and loves to sit down and have a conversation with you.
We are forever grateful to FFH. It brought our family back together. It gave us peace and security while being homeless. It gave us an even bigger support group. It gave us friendships that we hope to last a lifetime. It gave us hope. It doesn’t matter how big or small, everything that the people of FFH do, matters! Please keep doing what you are doing, and know you are making a difference.
Thank you, for everything.”
– The Salazar family, who recently moved into permanent housing, were also interviewed for the Coloradoan.