Counting the Days: A New Year, A New Home

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties.

It was a tradition. Every year at the end of December, I spent a few extra dollars for a new calendar. I’d pin it to our kitchen wall for the entire family to see. We marked birthdays, holidays, our work schedules—everything—on the calendar. In truth, this calendar told the story of our lives.

Looking at it now, I realized it would soon need to be replaced. Another year had nearly passed. And truly, I’d like nothing better than to put the year behind us. It had been filled with one challenge after another. We just couldn’t seem to get ahead.

My hours had been cut at work, my husband had been laid-off from his factory job… Soon, two out of three of our kids’ birthdays would be here. We surely couldn’t afford to give our teens any extravagant gifts. They understood our financial hardships, but it still hurt me not to be able to give them the “happy birthday” they deserved.

“We had moved down south years ago with hopes of a better life. Yet, it felt like all we found was hard times.”

Our family needed to make a change—we needed to find some way to get out of this downward financial spiral. A while back, when sharing my stresses with my aunt, she had brought up the idea of moving closer to her. At the time, a cross country move felt hard to comprehend.

“Move back to Toledo?” I had said to her in disbelief over the phone. “But our life is here…for 15 years we’ve lived in this town. I just don’t think I could do that to the kids.”

That was then, this is now…

Looking again at the calendar on the wall and the pile of bills next to me, I thought to myself: out with the old and in with the new. Maybe, it was time for us to return to Toledo—what did we have to lose?

Together, we packed up the few belongings we had and traveled cross-country, arriving in Toledo on New Year’s Eve, ready for a fresh start. Step 1: look for jobs. Step 2: call United Way 2-1-1. In fact, that’s how we found La Posada Family Emergency Shelter.

Entering La Posada for the first time, my heart was pounding. I was so nervous. Across the table, I explained our relocation and financial situation to the shelter assistant. With pride, I told her how both my husband and I had already found jobs in Toledo. Together, she helped guide us through the process of housing assistance.

Weeks passed. We hoped we had made the right decision this time. Looking at the calendar on La Posada’s wall, I thought about how much had changed since we made the trip back to Ohio. We had left our beloved home down south and moved into a shelter in Ohio…it had taken an emotional toll on all of us, especially the kids.

Finally, on a cold day in February, the news came: our inspection for our new home had passed.

Quickly, I walked over to the calendar on the wall of our shelters’ living quarters, and mentally crossed off the days. Tomorrow, we would move into our new home. After 45 days of being in the shelter, we would finally have a place we could call our own.

My heart filled with joy, and I called out to my kids. “Boys!” I shouted, with a huge smile on my face. “We’re starting a new chapter! So, I’m heading out to get a new calendar. Tomorrow we’ll have our own walls to pin it up on. A new year, a new home!”


*This blog post is based on a true story / success narrative from La Posada Catholic Charities. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s successes and struggles.

Change Maker Action: Because of your support, individuals in our community are able to access financial stability services that change, or have great impact on their lives. If you would like to speak with shelter assistance, please call United Way 2-1-1.