Two winters ago Mary lived in a warehouse where a friend of hers was renting workshop space. The small unheated room marked the first winter in 7 years that Mary had spent inside. After three months, a maintenance person working late caught her sleeping there & asked her to leave. Mary had moved her belongings – art work, camping gear, clothing, canned food – to the site & had no way to get them all out on a short timeline. When the maintenance department threatened to throw them out, Mary came to PATH, asking for a few bus tickets to move some of her camping gear so she would have a chance to set up somewhere else.
Mary didn’t make friends easily and had only begun speaking to PATH staff the summer before, although she’d come to get lunch at local shelters for years. The PATH staff member she spoke with encouraged her to accept assistance from the team & agreed to provide transportation to the warehouse to retrieve all of her belongings.
During the following months PATH staff assisted Mary with other small things: setting up a voicemail account, getting a local food box, thread to repair her clothing. Six months later, Mary came to PATH saying that she’d gone a week without food, that the prospect of another winter outside was too much for her, and that she was completely overwhelmed. Staff linked Mary that day with mental health support!She spoke with the mental healthcare provider about her symptoms of severe depression and the manic episodes she had been afraid to tell others about. With encouragement, Mary filed for disability and was later approved for full benefits. Mary now lives in permanent housing through a private rental that she pays for herself! She visits friends regularly and builds art pieces in her backyard, and faces the winters knowing that she’ll be safe & warm in her own home.