Families Without Homes

The work of rebuilding lives


It Can Work if You Work It

Bridget was sixteen and a high school student in Chicago when she became pregnant. At seventeen she had dropped out of school, married the father of her child, and became pregnant with a second child. She left her husband and moved back in with her mother when her husband began seeing other women. "I thought I was in love," says Bridget, "but things weren't going as planned." Then her mother died when Bridget was twenty-one, and her husband kidnapped her kids and took them to Minneapolis. Bridget turned to drugs.

She was a heavy user of cocaine and alcohol when Anne, a reformed addict, adopted her from the streets of Chicago. Anne told Bridget she was too beautiful to do this to herself. In a year Bridget moved to Minneapolis, where she entered a drug treatment program and was able to reclaim her kids. At first she and the kids lived in the shelters and with friends and relatives, but St. Stephen's has helped her to find an apartment and has gotten her into a GED program. "It lifts me up to be getting my GED," says Bridget. Her kids are already doing better in school under the influence of a more stable home life.


The Work Goes On

"Tonight over 9,000 children will be homeless in Minnesota," declares a recent publication of Minnesota Coalition of the Homeless. These children, with or without parents, will be staying with friends, relatives, in shelters, or wherever they can. Homelessness affects their emotional and physical health, and influences their future prospects in work, in relationships, and in life. St. Stephen's and other agencies are doing their best to help families break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, but the work isn't easy.

The massive exodus of high-paying industrial employers from U.S. cities in the second part of this century has left millions of families across the nation without living-wage work. This contributes to the dissolution of inner-city communities and families, and to the societal ill of homelessness. Building affordable housing is part of the solution, but equally important is helping people with shattered lives rebuild themselves. As Minneapolis and St. Paul struggle to revitalize and repopulate their inner-city neighborhoods, the work of St. Stephen's and similar agencies becomes especially vital.


David Griffin is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, and a frequent contributor to Minnesota Parent. His article about the recent rise of the ancient practice of labyrinth-walking appeared in our November, 1998 issue.

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