One thing becomes clear after spending a bit of time at Northlands Rescue Mission - there is no single face of homelessness. While it’s difficult to get an accurate count, we know there are significant numbers of homeless women, youth, veterans, and families right here in North Dakota. At the Mission at any given time, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of our clients are women. Homelessness does not only affect single, older, white males.
We see all kinds of people come through the doors at Northlands Rescue Mission, and they each have their own stories and needs. That is why we take a personal, client-based approach to everyone who stays here.
Dave and Lisa represent one group often overlooked when it comes to homelessness - families. Dave and Lisa have been married for 16 years. They have three boys, ages 9, 12, and 13. They’re originally from Iowa, but had been living elsewhere in North Dakota before coming to Northlands Rescue Mission just a couple weeks ago.
Things haven’t always been easy for the family. In 2017, Lisa had a brain hemorrhage that made it difficult for her to work. “There are a lot of things I can’t do,” she says. “There are a lot of things I don’t want to do because I’m scared to do them.”
On top of medical issues, Dave and Lisa’s housing situation was less than adequate, and Dave had gotten into some legal trouble. Fortunately, he was directed to “Free Through Recovery,” a behavioral health program in North Dakota.
The program would help connect Dave and his family to essential resources and supportive housing, provided he found steady work. Dave knew he had to take advantage of the opportunity. The couple were made aware of Northlands Rescue Mission, and after a little bit of research they knew it was the right place for them to get back on their feet so they could care for their family. Shortly after arriving at the Mission, Dave secured a job at a local service company. He does concrete work, landscaping, maintenance, and snow removal, among other things. He describes himself as a jack-of-all-trades and says he enjoys the work.
Dave and Lisa find time each day to help out around the Mission, routinely unloading donations or cleaning. They enjoy interacting with the other clients and also take advantage of the Kickstart computer lab, which they’ve found to be a great resource. “I think it’s nice, what they do for people,” Lisa says of the Mission. “The staff is really nice. They work with you great.”
What Dave and Lisa appreciate most is not having to worry about food and essential items. “Oh, man, the meals are awesome! I’ve gained about 10 pounds since I’ve been here,” Dave says, laughing. “You don’t go hungry,” Lisa adds. “I came in with no coat,” says Dave. “Now I got a coat.” He grins and tugs on the sturdy work coat he's wearing.
Dave and Lisa are also grateful for the donors who’ve helped make these things possible. “If there were no donors, there wouldn’t be a Mission,” says Dave. “Thank you for donating.” “You’re making a difference in people’s lives,” says Lisa.
Dave and Lisa know they are on the right path to obtaining affordable, safe housing. They are putting their family first and doing what they know is best for their children. “We’ve been in this journey together for 16 years,” says Lisa. “We still have our kids. Some people would say, ‘Well, why aren’t your kids with you?’ We didn’t lose them. We chose to do it this way and to keep them in a safe place with my mom until we got established here.”
Dave and Lisa plan to find an apartment in Grand Forks and move their three boys in with them. It is clear they are confident and hopeful for the future.
Since we’ve been here, we’ve gotten jobs,” says Lisa. “We’re on our next step to finding a place. It all depends on [us], and if [we] have the determination to do it. It seems like everything is moving forward now,” she says with a smile.
Your generosity and support of the Mission give hundreds of people per year like Dave and Lisa the chance to rebuild their lives. Thank you for being the difference for our clients.