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A 32 year old mom of four children ages four to 16 found herself experiencing homelessness. After a few weeks of bouncing from one friend's house to another she contacted Family Promise of Waukesha County. Reflecting on her situation it dawned on a staff member that her situation was not that much different than someone they knew. Both moms were the same age, had the same number of children and were both single. One major difference: one mom was experiencing homelessness and the other was not. Why was this the case?

Perhaps it has to do with where mom #2 started. She was born into a family that was middle class, had parents with jobs that paid a livable wage, had some money saved and while they were not wealthy, they were able to live a comfortable life. Even though mom #2 had a baby while in college, she was able to return to school to complete her undergraduate degree and eventually her master’s degree. Now she has a job that pays a decent wage. She was able to finish her degree because she had parents who watched her children when she went to class or work, were able to underwrite a percentage of her housing costs, and provided her with a car. Homelessness was never a consideration.

On the other hand, mom #1 came from a low-income family. Her parents did not have extra money. A lack of education made it difficult for them to have a career that paid the bills or send their daughter to college. Their work schedule was irregular so they were not able to help her with child-care and sending the children to a daycare was more expensive than they could bear.

Unfortunately, poverty is often passed on from one generation to the next. Poverty is like being in quicksand; it does not let go easily. Having a network of support with resources is what provides a safety net. It is these resources that can give a family a second chance.

This is why a community response for families experiencing homelessness is extremely important. Supporters, volunteers and donors to Family Promise of Waukesha County can become that network of support that offers the resources that can give a family a hand up.

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