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For me, there was life before Homestretch – and life after Homestretch.

Before Homestretch, I was timid, frightened, and alone. I was married off to a man I didn’t know, who beat me, told me I was worthless, and made me feel useless and powerless. Domestic violence is not just physical; it is also about control. My husband wanted complete control over me, so I could have no friends, no family, no income or things of my own. When I finally left with my daughter, we feared for our lives; I was also so broken, that I wasn’t sure I could ever be repaired.

It’s hard to imagine that becoming homeless with a child – what no one ever wants – could actually save our life.

But Homestretch welcomed us like family. In Homestretch, I found the support I needed to discover myself. I found the strength that I didn’t think I had. I learned to take control over my own life, to plan, to dream, and to achieve everything I had once wanted.

My husband had also traumatized my daughter; then he tried to use that against me when he sought custody. My daughter, due to the abuse, was so far behind in her learning of basic things that he planned to show in court that I was an unfit mother. I was terrified of losing my daughter.

But Homestretch stepped in by enrolling her in Kidstretch, their licensed pre-school, where she flourished, and soon was learning at her age level. Kim Baker, the Director of Kidstretch, even came to the custody hearing on the day she was supposed to go on vacation, with her family waiting in the car. I won custody.

My dream was to become a teacher. So that’s what Homestretch helped me do. Now I am a lead teacher at a Montessori School in McLean. I did so well there that they paid for my certifications. I also became a first-time homebuyer; and last year I married a good man, one who respects me, and we have a new baby. But I also kept the house in my own name. And my future plans include opening my own Montessori School.

Everyone who comes into Homestretch is, like me, homeless with children. But that isn’t the end of their story. At Homestretch we learn to rewrite our futures. We learn the truth of the old saying, “It is never too late to become what you might have been.”

Homestretch truly does help rewrite futures for homeless families. I am living proof.