Ruth was our first resident at Georgia Street Cabins in Big Bear Lake, CA.
The local hospital (Bear Valley Community Hospital) initially referred Ruth to the Mountain Homeless Coalition when Ruth was about to be discharged and reported that she had no home to return to after her hospital stay. Ruth had been living out of her truck for two years after a messy divorce. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and is now living with 20% heart capacity. The doctor told her she would be better in a lower altitude community, but Big Bear is where she has spent her life and where she wants to live. And Ruth has too much life left in her to let anything stop her.
The Mountain Homeless Coalition (MHC) was able to place Ruth at Motel 6, thanks to Project Roomkey. Her truck and home of two years was on its last legs and after Ruth poured quite a bit of her monthly SSI checks into having amateur mechanics try to fix it, she decided to sell the truck and had a business across the street from Motel 6 store boxes for her (all of her belongings from her pre-homeless days).
When the MHC, partnering with the Housing Authority of the county of San Bernardino, was awarded Project Homekey funds to purchase a property in downtown Big Bear Lake with six units (and room to add two more), Ruth was at the top of our list to become a resident.
Once we told her and it soaked in that she would have a stable home, Ruth started dreaming again. She had been a business owner before and also had a current real estate license. She was ready to start again. She talked about dreams for the GSC – flowers and a garden and a beautiful welcoming spot in the neighborhood. She offered to be the onsite manager and when we requested her resume for a board meeting, she pulled it together and worked with the Motel 6 staff to fax it to us on a tight schedule before the board meeting.
Over time her calls to us switched from teary cries for help, to calls that shone with Ruth’s natural enthusiasm and a great sense of humor!
She texted: “Thank you for believing in me. You will never know how grateful I am to you. All it took was a little help. Well, a lot from you. For the first time I feel free of past and ready to conquer anything. Will start up with real estate with Keller beginning of year. I could not have done it without you and your support. I actually got down on my knees and thanked our Lord for you and helping me get out of the mess I created!! “
Once she moved into her cabin on Georgia Street, she asked for paint to fix up the walls in her unit. She picked out several old pieces of furniture and beautifully refinished them. Her unit looks immaculate and so homey. She naturally made friends with the handymen and other tenants and often has freshly baked cookies to share, or an invitation to dinner after their hard work. She has become the den mother to our GSC residents.
After a month of being in her cabin, she was ready to get going. With an extra government check she pulled things together and bought a car. She has used the shared internet provided by GSC to research and learn so that she could get back into the real estate business after a several year gap. She has taken the step up provided by having a stable place to call home and is making the most of it.
Another text from Ruth sums it up: “Wait till you see. It will work. All I needed was a little help and someone who believed in me. That was all. I may have screwed up but no more. I am proud and happy to be a part of what you have given me. I am very lucky. I will treasure this place and pay it forward.”