Bonnita KarlaWhen Karla enters the room, everyone notices her. Her enthusiasm for life and her great efforts to build a new life give her drive and direction.

Karla grew up in North Portland, but left for many years as she shared life with her boyfriend. They moved to the Midwest.  But upon arriving, her boyfriend decided he did not want to live with her anymore. He dropped Karla and seven-year old Elsie off on the street. Karla managed to get to a homeless shelter and eventually made her way back home to Portland. While staying at a shelter run by Human Solutions, she proactively enrolled Elsie in school and worked hard every day learning how to access community resources. The Human Solutions staff members were very impressed! With very little time to find a place to stay before the shelter closed for the summer, Karla found the Community of Hope.

Karla enthusiastically participated in our classes and mentoring, signed up for the JOBS Program, and began to work on her GED. She was a huge help in doing extra work around our home, supporting the other young mothers, and learning and implementing new skills.

One day she saw a picture of two sets of very different lungs, one healthy and the other diseased and belonging to a smoker. Seeing what her own lungs probably looked like, she decided to quit. I suggested that it might be better to wait for life to be less stressful before trying to quit. Karla declared that she has not been so peaceful in months. She is not on the streets every day with her daughter. Mugged during the time she spent on the streets, Karla was very grateful that she can finally leave her belongings someplace without worrying they will be stolen. Her favorite part of living here is the loving atmosphere. Comfortable and secure, Community of Hope is a safe place filled with people who love and accept her. She came home.

Now, Karla has moved on. Elsie’s father has made huge strides in recovering a healthy lifestyle and has the strong support of the church he is attending. The church offered to help pay for Karla’s way there and has helped her make plans for housing, a job, and the strong community support we all need. Karla is proud of the goals she accomplished here and is grateful for the opportunity to grow in her ability to make better judgments, maintain healthy relationships, utilize better parenting skills, and to develop her budding relationship with God. The structure of our program, along with the classes and personal support have made a huge difference in her life. Her self-esteem has grown because she is experiencing success and she knows she is loved, which is the basis for the ongoing healing she will continue in this new stage of her life. Community of Hope was her home for a while. Now she can provide an ongoing stable home for her daughter.