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In 2015, I was renting a room in house with roommates in Charles Village. The landlord of the house terminated the lease for all tenants ending that year because he decided to sell the house without notification to the current tenants. At the time, I worked a low-paying customer service job and could not afford rent above $300. During this time, I was also laid-off from the job I held.
I moved into a temporary living arrangement with friends who gave me 30-days to locate housing and new employment. I was not successful in finding either, so they asked me to leave their residence. Since I do volunteer work with my church, I am very familiar with Manna House. Expecting to live in a shelter until I could find a more permanent situation, I walked in and asked where I should start to seek housing and food resources. The two ladies at the front office, Valerie and Patti, were very receptive, kind, and helpful. They informed me that they knew of a job opening for a House Manager at a program designed for women who were formerly homeless women and/or women rebuilding their lives after drug addiction, sex trafficking, and physical abuse. I was asked to return the following day, which I did. I was given the name of the CEO of Center for Creative Life and Learning, Inc. in Baltimore
After meeting with Center for Creative Life and Learning the following day, I was accepted into the House Manager’s Apprenticeship Training Program and was also accepted as a program participant. It is a very organized and structured program, requiring residents to commit to education through enrolling in school or a training program, keeping the home clean and organized, taking personal care of oneself, devoting to spirituality and religion through bible study, and to self-improvement through participating in activities, taking advice from mentors, and communicating with guest speakers. I stayed with the program for 18 months and developed myself while acquiring job skills and self-confidence. Through those 18 months, I watched residents come and go quickly because they were not ready to commit and live their lives in new ways.
I have since moved on from CCLAL, live in an apartment downtown and have a job at university. I am very grateful and appreciative for meeting Valerie and Patti and for the services offered by Manna House when I endured that difficult, frightening, and very uncertain time in my life. Without the help given to me, I do not know where I would be now or what would have happened to me.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Kelly E. Crawford
(A former Manna House client. Now Chair, Outreach Mission Ministries at St. John’s United Methodist Church and, Office Assistant Office of the Dean at Morgan State University)