Category Archives: Resident Success Stories
For Yoninah Murphy, returning to Oregon was to be a joyous homecoming. Her job in New Mexico was coming to an end. She’d lined up work and a place to live. She’d bought her plane ticket to Redmond, was excited for her next chapter. Then a double serving of bad luck landed on her plate. Both the job and the place to live evaporated. But there was no turning back. About all she had were that one-way ticket to Redmond and a dream of a better future. Now jobless and homeless, she asked a friend in Bend put her up for a few days. He’d once been a resident at Bethlehem Inn and suggested Yoninah head there. She did, “a little bit scared,” in her words. At first, the staff’s direct and sometimes hard questions were daunting. But it didn’t take long for Yoninah to see that the “tough love” was really only about giving her the help and direction she needed. As Yoninah now says, “Fiery fear became fiery confidence.” Staff recognized her work ethic and encouraged her to “see her potential as a human being.” Yoninah’s mantra became, “Things are coming together.” And they were. She got a job…two jobs in fact. She found a place to live. Having seen firsthand the broad support the Inn receives, Yoninah marvels at “the abundance of generosity in this community…a reflection of where the heart of Central Oregon lies.” We could not agree more.
Jonathan Paul has a good job. And a future. Oh, he’s had other jobs. Lots of them. A future? Not really…until now. It began, he’ll tell you, at Bethlehem Inn. Jonathan was a lost kid. Addict parents; no food in the house; electricity and water turned off. The streets became his home. Drugs…using, selling. Four prison stays over the years. Evicted and broke, he first found Bethlehem Inn back in 2013. The angry young Jonathan stayed only a few hours. But he came back later and with staff help joined the Heart of Oregon program, stayed with it, earned some money and a school grant. He got clean and sober…for a while. Then, in his words, “I started a moving company, got comfortable and careless.” He started using again. Depressed, broke, fighting with his girlfriend, sleeping in his car, time in county jail. He remembered Bethlehem Inn and went back, desperate enough to look at the Inn with a new pair of eyes. This time, he had “…an awesome relationship” with the staff. He found “…support and a foundation for living.” He’s landed an apprenticeship with the electricians’ union. For now he’s working on a big solar panel project in Prineville. He and his girlfriend are in counseling. He’s clear-eyed, clean, sober. He even laughs now and then. Jonathan Paul is moving, one day at a time, into a future rich with promise.
Sometimes the difference between comfortable, stable living and homelessness comes in a flash. For the Dawson family, Luke, Charleen and their daughter, it came in the form of an electrical fire that destroyed the home they rented and almost everything they owned. Luke was already facing life-threatening health issues that ended a fifteen-year construction career. He has heart disease. And epilepsy was found when he experienced a near-deadly seizure while driving. With nowhere to live, they turned to Bethlehem Inn. Their experience? In Charleen’s words, “They showed us the steps to take to clear every hurdle we came to. We put in the work, but they were there to point the way.” School was still in session and Inn staff, working with the Family Access Network, had their sixth-grader back in class in two days. Bethlehem Inn connected the Dawsons with NeighborImpact for housing assistance. Says Charleen, “Bethlehem Inn just kept opening doors for us. Things like rental denials turned into acceptances.” Within two weeks of getting to the Inn, the Dawsons were set to move into rental housing. Luke calls the multi-faceted help “…a circle of care…and a huge stress relief.” The Dawsons expressed their gratitude for Bethlehem Inn and acknowledged that the support and their own hard work helped them find their way to a new and promising “normal.”
Sometimes the best way to understand the impact of Bethlehem Inn is through a story: Jasmine was fleeing an abusive partner. With her four children, she moved in with friends in Bend. Working hard every day to juggle three part-time jobs and parenting, she found her herself homeless when the temporary living situation ended. Fortunately, a school counselor recommended Bethlehem Inn. It took about 30 days at the Inn for Jasmine to get her family needs sorted out. We helped Jasmine and family find an apartment, and access additional resources. Jasmine now has a future. Her children are stable in school, and she is advancing her own education while making enough to live on through her work.