Everything is easier when you have a home

Nefertiti is a determined young woman with smiling eyes and a contagious giggle. Despite a series of hard knocks, both emotionally and literally, the devoted mom has worked diligently to set herself on a path that will hopefully lead to a nursing degree, a permanent home for her beautiful family, and in due time, college educations for her two sons.

Her connection with Lazarus House began last summer. She and her longtime partner both had good jobs but could not afford to keep their apartment. They soon lost it and then were moving from one relative to the next. Eventually, Nefertiti moved in with her mother. “I was working in Lawrence and living in Boston with my mother. I had to take the T to a cab and then finally board a bus to get to my job. I left every day at 5 a.m. and didn’t get home until 9 p.m. My son, DeRay, was a baby and he came with me. He was so good about the long day.”

Nefertiti’s aunt had a small apartment in Lawrence so she moved in with her, but “It was crowded there. We didn’t have a bed and we were sleeping on the floor. To get out of the way, I would take the baby out for the day, but it really got to be too much for everyone. That’s when I found the Lazarus House Emergency Shelter. Almarie, the shelter advocate, made arrangements for us. It was wonderful to have a bed and I loved the family feeling there. The first day we had this big beautiful breakfast with pancakes and sausages and everyone there was so nice. Nobody at Lazarus House looks down on you. They work with you to help you reach your goals and make things better.”

Nefertiti knew this was a temporary solution and she would need ongoing support to reach her goals of self-sufficiency for her family. “I was at the shelter for three months. My advocate worked with me on a plan for the future. She suggested I apply for transitional housing at Capernaum Place. It was not an easy process to get an apartment there but I proved I was willing to work hard towards my goals. There was a gap before we heard about the apartment. In early December, I was back at my aunt’s and sleeping on the floor. I was pregnant again and one day while walking home I got hit by a truck – it seemed like nothing was going right! Then we got the news that we were approved for an apartment.”

“The first night when we came to Capernaum, I didn’t know it was furnished and expected that we would be sleeping on the floor. But when we walked in and saw it was furnished too, I just cried. I couldn’t believe it. That first night we just kept walking from room to room, loving our new home.”

Looking to the future, Nefertiti and her boyfriend know what they want for the family they have built together and how they are going to make it happen. “We have a plan. He has a job in Boston now but he wants to get his accounting degree. I would like to get a nursing degree so I can help people.” She is working to attain her goals and at the same time is making the most of the support she gets from Lazarus House. “Everything is easier now that we have a home; a place where we can do things. I have my goals and my case manager at Lazarus House helps me outline a plan to reach those goals. We meet every week and she helps me to see what I need to do to keep working the plan and get to where I want to be. I just completed the Budget Buddies workshop and earned a certificate in Asset Management. I learned a lot of techniques on how to make the most of my income and save for the future. Working with my financial mentor on a weekly basis was really helpful.”

Nefertiti summarized this past year, saying that all these tough experiences have changed her and made her stronger. “I know now that when life knocks me down, I can get up again and keep going. If I hadn’t gotten up after each setback, then I wouldn’t be at Capernaum. Each time I have been able to overcome the obstacles. It encourages me to know that about myself. No matter how hard life gets, I have always had a positive outlook.”