Lori encountered difficulties at every turn. For Lori, even just growing up was a challenge. When she was later diagnosed with a mental health disorder, she turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. Her two youngest sons were removed from her custody and life just kept getting worse. She was arrested and incarcerated and, when released, was homeless. Lori was without work, without reliable transportation or housing and was struggling to overcome her addictions.
Referred to the Pathway Homeless Shelter of the Indiana County Community Action Program (ICCAP), Lori received emergency food, life skills training and case management services. The shelter then referred Lori to Project LIGHT, Life Improvement through Goals, Housing and Transportation, a supportive services program that offers intensive case management services and promotes self-sufficiency by addressing individual-specific barriers through unique solutions, including a full-service approach. Lori was accepted into the project in January 2004.
Lori’s initial goals were finding employment, housing and reliable transportation; becoming substance free; and, being reunited with her children. Additional goals included retaining employment and housing and ongoing sobriety.
Even with setbacks, however, Lori had a strong drive to succeed, striving to negotiate life’s curves. When she received a petition to have her parental rights terminated and her attorney took an extended leave, Lori met with her new attorney, advocated for her parental rights and found a new ally. After several court hearings, Lori was successful in retaining her parental rights. She would not lose her children.
Lori found herself permanent housing that was safe for herself and her children, who are being transitioned back into her home and her custody. Next, she concentrated on her addiction and has remained drug-free since her earlier relapse. She also has found full-time employment and was recently honored as an excellent employee. In addition, Lori now has reliable transportation.
Lori was also able to receive assistance from a number of ICCAP programs including the Rental Assistance Program, Housing Counseling, Penelec Customer Assistance Program and the Representative Payee Program.
Lori said she would not be reunited with her children, be in housing or have been able to retain employment without the help of Indiana County Community Action Program, Inc. and her Project LIGHT case manager. Most likely she would be dead, she said.
Her agency case worker said if Murphy’s Law truly exists, Lori has been exposed more than anyone she’s encountered. Lori had obstacle after obstacle; nothing happened easily for her. The success she has achieved can be measured not only by her goals and outcomes, but by the ability of the human spirit to achieve good things, the staffer said.
Lori is a person with a great sense of humor, who is forthright and gives herself so that others will not have to suffer the same circumstances that she has faced in her life. She hopes to continue her education so that she can better provide for her family.