On Mondays and Thursdays you’ll find her running the reception desk with a smile and a snarky sense of humor.
But it wasn’t a year ago that she and her family were Open Doors residents— Family Promise of Spokane's 24/7 walk-in emergency shelter for homeless families.
“I came down from Alaska wearing a backpack when I came to Open Doors,” says Charmonix. She brought along her husband and two kids. After three nights at Open Doors, a low-barrier overnight shelter, Charmonix and her family transitioned to Bridges, our interfaith hospitality program that equips families for long-term housing.
Six months after she arrived at Open Doors as a resident, she began volunteering, having found a stable home through Family Promise.
“I knew I was gonna give back,” she says confidently.
I asked Charmonix what it was like to be homeless. From having a college degree and two kids to being without a place to sleep, she recollected her past. “Once I went homeless... it’s a completely different view… you never knew where you were gonna get your next meal.”
I then asked her how her journey has changed her: From homelessness on the street to a shelter and now, to living independently in a home and volunteering. “It made me stronger… I feel like I’m stronger, you know, since I’ve been homeless. I appreciate the little things a whole lot more. Like, the simple fact that I sleep in a bed is… huge. Compared to sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag, you know?”
But Charmonix still has battles to fight. When she transitioned to a home from the Bridges program, her two kids entered the foster care system due to a complicated medical crisis. She gets to talk to them on the phone every day, but she grieves her inability to put them to bed every night. “As painful as it is, it’s good to know they’re in a good home.”
Charmonix’s hope for her kids? “I hope that we can make them as happy as the foster system has made them.”
Currently, Charmonix sees three different counselors along with volunteering in her free time. She is hopeful and expectant, and she beams with gratitude and good humor. “Life is just good,” she muses.