“Open Doors has been a real blessing in my life, I don’t think I could be where I am today if it weren’t for them. They have helped myself and my family through a difficult time,” -Nathan
When Nathan was 2 years old, Open Doors had helped his family when they first moved to Michigan in 1989. His family was homeless until his father could find a means to support them. “Open Doors had really helped my family through that difficult time,” Nathan said.Years later, Nathan and his two sons and wife found solace in Open Doors again. With little education and working long hours at a retail store to make ends meet, Nathan knew it was time to make a change.
Eager to provide financial support for his young family, Nathan decided to work towards earning a degree in Information Technology at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Computers have always been a hobby of Nathan’s so the choice came naturally to him, turning his passion into a career prospect.
Through the support of Open Doors and multiple scholarships from the Open Doors scholarship fund along with a strong will to provide for his family, Nathan is now a college graduate. He completed his degree with high honors, 3 certificates of achievement, and 5 industry certifications in computing.
Nathan is now an Information Technology Support Specialist at Duncan Aviation and works part time for Open Doors assisting with IT issues. His family just recently purchased their first home. “It is an honor working for an organization that helps so many people and I can only imagine the countless lives that Open Doors has changed over the years.”
“You learn to care about your space and appreciate accountability and respect for each other.” – Stacy
Open Doors resident Stacy Salters moved into her home at Cooper Apartments in January 2012. Now, just two and a half years later, she and her son and daughter have been able to move out of the Open Doors Residence Community into their own unsubsidized apartment.
A few years ago Stacy found herself feeling empty with a desire for a more fulfilling career. She recognized and embraced her need to pursue true happiness so with a leap of grace she applied for an Americorps/Vista position with Communities in Schools. She exclaimed “it takes a bit of crazy to seek happiness!” With this leap she quickly realized that supporting a family on the Americorps stipend would be difficult and she could no longer afford her $800-a-month apartment.
Stacy was referred to Open Doors by a friend where she was able to live within her means while pursuing her dream. Stacy describes her experience at Cooper Apartments as an opportunity to become part of a community where residents provide each other with support and encouragement. “Everyone has something to give to others,” she says. “You learn to care about your space and appreciate accountability and respect for each other,” Stacy adds. Still finding herself encompassed by the poverty mindset, she is constantly reminding herself how important it is to focus on future goals and to plan for tomorrow. “It’s not just about getting an apartment, it’s about making goals to do something bigger and better.”
Stacy is now working a fulfilling job she loves at Communities in Schools. As After-School Program Coordinator she enriches the lives of 75 to 100 children in Kindergarten through 5th Grade, providing academic support and enrichment experiences. She makes her impact by building positive, one-on-one relationships. Her next step is to apply for the Master’s program at the School of Social Work at Western Michigan University.
Remaining an active member of our community at Open Doors, she is one of two residents who serve on our Board of Directors and is a regular participant in our monthly community dinners. She serves as Treasurer of Bible Baptist Church and volunteers as an events coordinator at Mothers of Hope, a local community group that sponsors the annual Ultimate Family Reunion at Spring Valley Park.
Stacy hopes whoever gets her old apartment will be able to pursue their dreams as she has been able to through the help of Open Doors. We are glad that Open Doors had a home to offer her when she needed it. Now we are thrilled that she no longer needs a home at Open Doors.
“Open Doors has been a blessing from God and a second chance at the life I truly wanted.” – Sabrina
Sabrina had a long history of substance abuse starting at a young age which drove her to troubles with the legal system and a criminal background. Her road to recovery began with a chance to participate in Drug Treatment Court where she began her transition into sobriety.
Sabrina found a home at the Next Door Shelter for Women with the help of a DTC caseworker so she could build a plan that would ensure her stable housing through Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program, KPEP.
Her stay lasted 10 months at the Next Door Shelter before she transitioned into the Residence Community. During her stay at the shelter, she learned how to take care of herself and stand on her own two feet. She received loving and caring support that led to personal growth and a level of independence she never knew she had.
A short while after graduating from DTC, Sabrina relapsed and moved out of her home with Open Doors. She never lost touch with Stephanie and Erika who had made it clear to her that no matter where she was in her journey, she was loved and cared for by her Open Doors family. Her relationship with the people at Open Doors was critical because at some points during her relapse, it felt like it was impossible to love herself.
Sabrina continued using for a year and then made the decision to go into inpatient treatment. After her treatment, she came back to the Next Door Shelter and had another relapse and was asked to leave. She spent her time thinking of the tools she had gained during her time with Open Doors and how to put them to use. “I had to let go of my will, I had to surrender to God’s will for my life. That was the only way I would get back on my feet.”
Sabrina fought for the custody of her children and stayed clean after this last relapse. She found a job as a Manager at Taco Bell and found stable housing for herself and her kids, let go of the people of her past that were hurting her and became very active her in church with her kids.
It has been a year now and Sabrina has transformed and is now living her life clean and with a clean slate. She is now the new manager of the Next Door Shelter and plans on using everything she was taught during her stay at the shelter. She wants to help these women become everything God intended them to be.