Out of Money and Out of Time: Hailey's Search for Stability.

By Jane Farstrider

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a hard-working mother with three young children. You, your husband, and kids sit in a run-down motel room, nearly 2,000 miles from your home state. The few resources your family had were enough to get you to Spokane, but neither of you has a job yet. The credit cards are maxed out. You have no way to pay for another night indoors. You’re exhausted, and the hope of finding a fresh start is turning to cold panic.

For Hailey VenHuizen, facing that stark reality pushed her to look for help she never thought she would need.

Hailey’s quiet determination is striking as she explains how they had struggled in Ligonier, Indiana before deciding to take a leap into the unknown and move across the country.

“Life in Indiana was not ideal for my family,” she says. “I was working 7 days a week from 2 p.m. - 3:30 a.m. to care for my family and catch up on the bills. Finally, when I was almost caught up on all of the bills, the rent had increased significantly and I fell behind. Again. I had received a notice to vacate my home and there were limited resources that would help with rental assistance. I prayed every day hoping God would hear me.”

When an old friend told Hailey and her husband about Spokane, they felt that the opportunities there would be worth leaving everything they knew behind.

In Indiana they didn’t have a support network, the educational options weren’t great, and resources for people struggling financially were sparse. “There wasn’t even a bus system,” she says. “We took our tax refund and escaped Indiana and never looked back.”

Hailey’s husband flew to Spokane in February of 2019, and Hailey followed in March with the kids, who were all between the ages of 1 and 5 at the time.

“The position that we were in was dreadful and embarrassing,” Hailey says. “Maybe we should've had a plan before we moved to Spokane, sure, but we also knew that if we had stayed in Indiana, our position would've been much worse.”

The beginning of it was terrifying. You feel like a horrible person having to put our kids through that, it is not fair. It was February, pouring rain and we were cold and soaked when we arrived at Family Promise’s Open Doors Shelter.

If it weren’t for Family Promise, we wouldn’t be alive today. We would’ve gone hungry and cold. We would’ve ended up under a bridge in a tent.

When they couldn’t afford another night at the motel, Hailey took action and started googling emergency family shelters, even though it made her deeply uncomfortable.

Hailey says that during this time, she knew she had to hold it together and be a positive role model for her kids.“How you feel on the inside is what you manifest on the outside,” she says. “You just keep going. Stopping is not an option.”

“I mustered up the courage to call Open Doors,” she says. “Katie Theobald answered my phone call. She was gentle and understanding and her warmth made me feel comfortable enough to explain the situation. Katie walked my family through the anxieties and fears that we were experiencing.”

With Katie’s instructions, they never had to face a night on the streets. Hailey and her family got into Open Doors, a day shelter run by Family Promise where they could safely stay together and work on next steps. “Once I had called and spoke to Katie, we were in the shelter the very next morning at 7 a.m.”

“What I love about Family Promise is that they keep the family together,” Hailey says. “On our first day, there was a table full of resources for school, childcare, and jobs.”

One of the brochures on that table was for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Center, where they were able to bring the kids while they searched for work and connected with other resources.

“I felt a lot of security,” Hailey remembers. “We felt safe, wanted, and comfortable. They gave me tools I needed to go home. I filled out an application for another Bridges program – where we’d have our own room for the day, and were taken to a church to stay overnight.” The Bridges transitional living program approved their family quickly, and there Hailey met Susan Heitsman, whose support was particularly impactful.