Alumni Spotlight: Animal Lover Elaine at Home with Her Health and New Bunny

Elaine has held many jobs throughout her life, including running a rescue farm and caring for horses for 18 years. COVID, a number of health issues and a series of unfortunate events changed that. After spending more than three years at a shelter, Elaine came to Mary’s Home to recover from COPD exacerbation. After stabilizing her health, Joseph & Mary’s Home staff connected her to permanent housing. With a place to call home, she was able to return to caring for animals, adopting a pet rabbit she named Precious Bunny. Both Elaine and Precious Bunny are enjoying all the space and natural light that her new apartment offers.

Right now in your life, what are you grateful for?

I feel like a million weights have been lifted off my chest. After living in shelter for several years, I now have a place of my own. I used to have a lot of confusion, because I would wake up every morning at a different place. Joseph & Mary’s Home truly advocated for me. I’m still getting used to my new place. It’s quiet and clean. The bedroom is huge and I can plug in my oxygen machine at night. There are large windows that let in natural light.

Who referred you to Joseph & Mary’s Home? How did you first learn about our organization?

I was living at Norma Herr Women’s Shelter and got really sick. I couldn’t get out of bed. I went to the emergency room and was in the hospital for 10 days. I joke that I take after my father. Every illness he had, I have too. Severe asthma, COPD, arthritis, joint replacement. I used to take care of a rescue farm and horses. For 18 years, I worked every day out in the cold. It takes a toll on your body.

Do you remember the first time you walked into Joseph & Mary’s Home? What was that like?

Very clean. Very friendly. Everyone came and said hi.

What activities or services were the most helpful?

Getting connected to housing. The staff was more assertive than my other case managers. I had been on a housing list for almost two years. Joseph & Mary’s Home got me in my apartment.

What is a favorite activity/hobby that you love doing?

When I was little, I used to do very detailed drawings. It was calming. At Mary’s Home, I was always in the art room. I made animals out of recycled materials and painted canvas bags. I miss spending time in the art room and chatting with Sr. Catherine.

Now that you’ve been at Joseph & Mary’s Home, what’s your life like? What do you hope the future holds for you?

At the beginning of the month, when I get my check, I’ll walk to the café and visit my friends. I have lost a lot of weight from walking. I have always loved rabbits and adopted Precious Bunny. He sits on my lap and watches TV with me. I have ivy plant cuttings from my daughter and Sr. Catherine that grow in water and soak up all the natural light.

I’m still adjusting from living at homeless shelters to my apartment. The first week, I felt like I needed to be quiet, not bother anyone. Then I realized, this is my house! I’m starting to make friends here and feel so grateful for my apartment.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

In my entire life, I have only been unemployed one time.

Before going to Mary’s Home, I was at Norma Herr Women’s Shelter for 3 and a half years. It happened because of Covid and was the perfect storm of everything going wrong. I got scammed out of my unemployment benefits. I lost my storage locker and everything in it at a self-storage facility.

I liked my life at the rescue farm that I ran. I would get up to make my coffee and the horses would see me and start nagging to be fed. I’ve always taken care of my animals first, then myself.

As a girl, I competed. My mom’s house had a room full of trophies that I won over the years. Horses took up my life.