Latoya Spikes Reflects on the Peoplestown Family Initiative

Last November, Emmaus House featured Latoya’s story as an example of one of the many people who come seeking help when there is nowhere else to turn. Latoya spoke about how she had lost her job and quickly was in a situation that she never thought possible. She was overwhelmed with past due notices, a job market that offered little in areas in which she had experience, an empty cupboard, and a hungry child.

Fortunately, she was able to connect with Emmaus House and begin moving in the right direction with a few emergency services and connections with some partners. She began taking those next seemingly giant steps back to self-sufficient living. However, “notices kept coming and searching for the right job when you have children can be really slow and then came the summer when my girl was out of school and had nowhere to go,” says Latoya. The fear at times felt “paralyzing.”

The fear at times felt “paralyzing.”

This is a problem for people across the country. They reach out to social service agencies, receive a few emergency services or “Band-Aids,” and they’re out the door— that is until next month or even next week. People like Latoya need more than just a few tangible items and a couple of referrals to get back to a level of self-sufficiency.

For this reason, Emmaus House has launched the Peoplestown Family Initiative, an in-depth case-care program for families of Peoplestown. Our goal this year is to work with up to 25 families that need extra care and assistance by assessing their needs, setting goals, and helping them navigate all the opportunities in the community that are available to them. We are happy to say that Latoya’s family is one of the first admitted into our new program.

When asked why she was interested in the Peoplestown Family Initiative Latoya responded, “There were so many things I needed and people here had already been so open and had been such a positive support to me. I felt like I could trust and confide in them and they were so great at motivating me and let me feel like for the first time that there was a future for me. I felt like I had family again supporting me.”

 I felt like I had family again supporting me.”

Identifying goals and envisioning an outcome in order to create an individual service plan is important for every participant so that they have a set of goals to which they can work. When asked what she wants to accomplish through the Peoplestown Family Initiative, Latoya’s answer was clear. “I want to be able to provide certain things on my own and be a light to others who are in my position now.”

Latoya has only been in the program a short while. However, she already notices the progress that she has made. “I can feel each week more and more of my future being put into my hands. I’ve worked out a plan that will slowly but surely pay off my debts to the water company which ensures that my landlord will not have to kick me and my family out. I don’t have this cloud of worry about whether or not I will have enough food this month. I feel a great sense of self-worth, which is something that was one of the first things to go. And I feel prepared to do things. I have a plan for each thing that I’m facing, not just reacting anymore.”

Given the opportunity to say something to whoever may be reading this, Latoya was quick to comment, “I would want someone else to benefit from this experience and feel like they are worthy. This program keeps me smiling and allows me to sleep at night knowing someone out there cares."