Adults experiencing homelessness find a safe place to spend their day at FCA’s Community Connections Center. Offering laundry assistance, cooking classes, computer access, referrals to other services, and more, the Center is a vital resource for many community members dealing with housing insecurity and homelessness.
Mary, 57, has been coming to the Community Connections Center for more than a year.
Mary grew up in Wilton and attended NYU for one year, but left when her mental health made attending impossible.
"I thought I was a loser," she said, "but it turned out to be anxiety and depression."
Mary began self-medicating with alcohol, which quickly became an addiction. Although she was able to achieve sobriety several times, struggles eventually led to relapses and a series of misfortunes led to homelessness.
In 2008, Mary was working and living at a jazz venue in California. For 15 years she remained sober, but when the owner of the venue died, she found herself unemployed and without a place to live. Although she tried living with family or friends, she felt like an imposition and her depression was overwhelming.
"I couldn’t pay my rent and I couldn’t save myself," she said.
Mary ended up in the only place she had left – her car.
Eventually, Mary checked herself into a hospital to get treatment for her depression. When she was discharged, she was invited to move in with a friend in Connecticut. Although it seemed her situation was moving in the right direction, Mary was unable to maintain her sobriety and her friend kicked her out. Unwilling to move back into her car, Mary went to the homeless shelter and began spending her days at FCA’s Community Connections Center.
"FCA is a completely wonderful place. It feels like a family, you’re not judged, and there’s kindness and laughter," Mary said of the Center.
Mary began helping others use the computers, look for jobs, and apply for low-cost cell phone programs. Helping others made her feel less alone and gave her purpose.
When the housing voucher she applied for came through, Mary was assigned Yvette at FCA as her case manager, and together they found Mary a charming one bedroom Westport apartment.
"The voucher for me is that I know that I’m safe for the rest of my life, so whether it’s depression or whatever else can possibly happen, I’m never going to be homeless again, and that’s an enormous relief," said Mary.
Although Mary has a place to live, her relationship with FCA and Yvette is ongoing. Yvette is helping her apply for disability and they will continue to work together as needed.
"I was so lonely my whole life. I just wanted a family and I felt like a didn’t have one. Now Family & Children’s Agency is acting like a family. I really don’t feel alone anymore for the first time in my life," said Mary.