My name is Marianne and I want to share my South County Outreach story with you. My husband and I have four amazing children, two sons aged 11 and 17 and two beautiful daughters, aged 3 and 12. In 2015, we were just like any other Orange County family; Tom worked for a property management company as a management technician and I stayed home to care for our children. The best part of Tom’s job was our rent was free. We weren’t rich, but we were doing okay until Tom’s company experienced some unexpected changes; we lost our free housing. Tom found another property site to manage, but his income alone wasn’t enough to find a place to rent. We had very little savings. No one would rent to us.
We stayed with family, but we couldn’t stay for long. There were too many of us. Our lives changed in what seemed like an instant. We went from being just like everybody else, to a family of six living out of a car. The kids were scared. My oldest son had always done well in school, but his grades began to drop. I wanted to go back to work, but felt overwhelmed trying to find daycare, a place to live and a job at the same time – all from the car.
In July 2015, we applied to South County Outreach for the transitional housing program. We moved from our car to a condo in August 2015, and that’s when our lives changed. I was able to find a seasonal job in retail which eventually turned into a full-time position. We found childcare through our church. We created a savings plan with the help of our case manager. Most importantly, our kids felt safe again. Not living in our car, having a place to live really does make a difference.
We were able to rent our own apartment in April 2016. I am grateful for South County Outreach for helping us go from nothing to having something – safety, security, plans for the future. I think my children benefited a lot, not just from having a place to live, but by seeing that people care. During our time in the program, our son graduated high school. He is now enrolled in community college and has a job. South County Outreach gave all of us the boost we needed.