At our Celebration of Impact event on September 14, Stephanie Vines-Wade delivered a deeply-moving testimonial. Evrod Cassimy, morning anchor for WDIV Local 4 News, who served as emcee for the event, introduced Stephanie by saying:
Southwest Solutions is known as a model of holistic services. The individuals that the organization serves often have multiple needs that must be addressed so that they can be successful.
When Stephanie Vines-Wade first came to Southwest Solutions, she was without a place to stay and a way to support herself and her son. Her life has changed remarkably since then. Stephanie is here to tell you more about her story. She’s not spoken publicly before, so this is a new challenge. But overcoming challenges is certainly not new to her, as you will learn.
Stephanie then spoke. Here are her remarks:
Thank you Evrod. Good evening everyone.
As Evrod said, I’m Stephanie Vines-Wade. I’m happy and nervous to speak to you all.
Normally, on a Friday night at this time, I would be at work. I work in the café at the DIA. I love my job. I enjoy interacting with the customers. I love that it lets me earn a living.
It’s not easy for me to talk about how I was living before. Four years ago, the problems in my life got so bad that I lost almost everything. Everything except my son – and my faith that things would get better for us if I could get the help I needed.
I was homeless and couldn’t find work. My son was 12 at the time. I decided to ask his grandmother to take care of him. Then I moved into a vacant house.
There was no heat or water. But I wanted to make sure that my hell was not my son’s. I knew he was worried about me, but I tried to calm his fears and hide my own.
I was in the abandoned house for a year and a half. Then I heard that Southwest Solutions helps people who are homeless.
Southwest Solutions assigned me a caseworker, Miss Natalie, to help me with my needs. They treated me for my depression and anxiety. And they got me a housing voucher.
I moved into an apartment in Detroit. Then I was able to reunite with my son. He is the heart of my life. I want the best for him, and I want him to have a much better life than I’ve had.
We now had a home. But I still needed work.
Fortunately, there’s another program at Southwest Solutions.
It’s called Supported Employment.
All my life I’ve done temporary jobs, like housekeeping or food service. So that’s what I asked Southwest Solutions to help me with. I would spend hours on the bus going to those jobs. It was exhausting.
My caseworker is Dominic. He kept encouraging me to apply for a steady job with better pay. But I resisted because I wasn’t confident enough. Finally, Dominic got me to go to a job interview at the DIA café. He helped me with my resume and prepared me for the interview.
A few days later, the DIA let me know that I was hired. I told Dominic. He was excited! He gave me bus tickets for three weeks until I got my first paycheck. It’s an amazing feeling to get a regular paycheck.
I cannot tell you how much better my life is today. Not only do I love my job, I have a chance to move up the ladder.
I hope to get a used car and a better place to stay. My biggest dream is to have my own catering business.
I know that Southwest Solutions has a program called ProsperUS to help Detroiters start their own small businesses. I’m going to enroll, and I’m excited about the possibilities ahead.
Thank you all for listening to my story. And I thank you, too, for supporting Southwest Solutions and how it changes lives.