Since she left the Army in 1998, after three years of service, Tadzia Lett’s life has had many peaks and valleys. She’s had periods of good-paying employment, followed by bouts of homelessness. She’s worked to help veterans in desperate need, and then been in desperate need of help herself.
From the end of last year to May of this year, Tadzia worked for organizations that provide transitional housing to homeless veterans and refer them to resources they require. The work was emotionally stressful, and Tadzia was already feeling an ominous anxiety. Then her father passed away.
“I was very close to my dad and his death hit me very hard,” said Tadzia, 43. “My grief became a nervous breakdown.”
Tadzia could no longer work, was unable to pay her bills, and lost her housing. She lived out of her car for four months while she sought help.
Because of her work with homeless veterans, Tadzia was familiar with the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program at Southwest Solutions. SSVF provides rental assistance and case management services to help low-income veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. In addition to housing, the program connects veterans to job training, employment, and education opportunities, VA and public benefits, mental health and substance-abuse treatment, and other services to help stabilize their lives and achieve self-sufficiency. Since the program began seven years ago, SSVF has assisted more than 2500 low-income veterans and their families.
At SSVF, Tadzia first worked with housing specialist Rozlyn Holifield. Rozyln helped Tadzia find a house to rent and arranged for SSVF to pay the security deposit and the first three months of rent. Rozyln also arranged for Tadzia to get a bed and basic household goods. Tadzia had some income coming in through VA Service-Connected Disability benefits.
With her immediate housing situation stabilized, Tadzia also connected with SSVF employment specialist Brandon Gray.
“I’m very employable,” Tadzia said. “I have a good work history, no substance-abuse problems, and I am now receiving counseling for my anxiety issues that were undiagnosed before. Brandon referred me to nine different employment opportunities, got me clothes for the interviews, and provided gas money for me to get there. I got several job offers.”
Ultimately, Tadzia decided that an opportunity at the United Way’s 2-1-1 operation was the best fit for her, since she has call center experience and enjoys connecting people in need with the services that can help them. Tadzia started training for the job in late July and now works full time as a 2-1-1 community care advocate.
“I listen carefully to the caller’s particular needs and search our databases to see where they can get assistance,” Tadzia said. “I also inquire about their secondary needs and suggest helpful resources. It’s rewarding work.”
In addition to getting help herself with housing and employment, Tadzia is getting help with her credit and budgeting, after her SSVF caseworkers referred her to the financial coaching services at Southwest Solutions. Tadzia is working with financial coach Brooke Ratliff.
“Rozlyn, Brandon and Brooke have gone above and beyond to help me, and I am overjoyed,” Tadzia said. “I consider them to be my guardian angels.”
Tadzia has a renewed optimism about her future and has set goals. She is working toward becoming a homeowner as soon as she can. In the fall, she will be starting at Henry Ford College. Eventually, she wants to enroll at Wayne State University and study social work.