“We have to take care of the people who were taking care of us.”
U.S. Army veteran Devin Evans and her two sons, ages 1 and 2, were homeless prior to coming to Catholic Charities earlier this year. In February, after months of living with family, they were able to secure an apartment of their own.
“It was hard finding a landlord that would accept someone who was low-income and homeless,” Devin said. “But my case manager was the best. She called all the time to check on me, and ask me about my children. She got us our new home.”
Now that she has her own place, Devin said her kids are able to be kids again.
“They run all over the place, and they really love having their own refrigerator,” she said, laughing. “Now I just have to keep up with their energy. They’re so happy.”
About serving in the military, Devin said it was “a very positive experience” and fulfilled her desire to “give back to her country and do something different than everybody else in her family.”
Veterans services was one of Catholic Charities first offerings and, along with the agency, is celebrating 100 years in 2017. Veterans services include housing, case management, employment services, and mental health and addiction counseling.
David Dempsey, Program Director at the St. Leo Residence for Veterans, describes it as a “one-stop shopping concept” for veterans in Englewood with various needs.
“St. Leo was the first of its kind in the country to offer all these veterans services in one location,” he said. “We meet people where they’re at, so no matter where they are in their lives we’re going to provide them with the services they need.”
Every veteran is assigned a case manager when they move in who assists them in obtaining services such as: medical care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, education, and employment. The case manager then meets with every veteran at least twice a month and does an assessment each year. The goal is for veterans to maintain stable housing, increase their income or benefits, and eventually, reach self-sufficiency.
“We try to encourage the veterans. People are dealing with a lot of issues here. But we see an individual improve the quality of their life and reach their goals. They come from a lot of adversity and we see them blossom right in front of us,” David said. “These are people who committed themselves to serve their country and put their lives on the line to protect us, and protect our freedom. We have to take care of the people who were taking care of us.”