SPARTA, Wis. (WXOW) – Sojourners Journey is a transitional housing shelter that takes in single, homeless mothers and their children, and helps them turn their life around.
Sunday they had their first graduate, Amber Sommers.
"Everyone was so supportive. And without you, I couldn't have done it," Sommers said, choking back tears in front of Sojouners staff and friends.
These are tears of joy.
Just a year ago, Sommers was a single, homeless mom to an infant.
"I was at rock bottom. I honestly didn't have a place to go," she said. "The landlord found out we were staying with my mom, again. He said we had a week to get out and if we didn't then he'd kick my mom out, too. And so my mom was like, ‘You all got to go.'"
Sommers was jobless, receiving no child support, and moving from friend to friend's house. She even stayed at a motel for a couple of weeks.
Sojourners Journey, a transitional home that runs a year-long program for homeless moms, took Sommers in.
"We believe what the bible says about true religion, being to take care of the widows and the fatherless, and that's what we want to do," said executive director Teri Pataska.
Classes on resume building, self-reassessment, even bible study filled Sommer's time, Pataska said.
Plus, rules that included a curfew, even visitation restrictions added to the challenge.
Sommers moved out of the home last week after completing the program.
She's now a certified nursing assistant, has a new home and a new life for her and her daughter.
"It feels good knowing I can finally go to bed at night and rest my head on my pillow and not have to worry about ever being homeless again," she said.
According to Sommers, there are three phases of the Sojourners program. In phase one, Sojourners provides donations. In phase two, residents get a job and start earning money. In the last phase, they live independently in the Sojourner's house before graduating and moving out.