Program at The Way Home helps empower those in need

MANCHESTER – In early 2017, desperate, and in an increasingly abusive relationship, Tori and her young son, Camren, packed up their few belongings and left their home in Concord.

“We literally had no place to go,” she said. “But we knew we couldn’t stay where we were. We had to get someplace safe.”

With the help of social service agencies, the two did find a temporary homeless shelter in Manchester, but that was a short-term solution.

“We needed a lot of help,” Tori said. “In addition to our immediate need of a place to live, my son was acting out due to what he had witnessed in our previous home.” While in the shelter, Tori learned about The Way Home and she and her son got a referral to the agency.

“For nearly 30 years, our agency has provided clients with safe housing, but just as importantly, tools and resources to help people move forward and gain confidence and independence,” said Christina Sleeper, who works as a housing advocate at The Way Home. “And our services extend to the whole family.”

In Tori’s case, The Way Home provided a safe and secure place to stay and educational programs for she and her son. Tori enrolled in a program called ‘Steps to Success,’ which provides real world training and support to attendees-everything from how to cook and clean to organizing a check book, to adopting healthy behaviors and understanding one’s credit score.

“Our goal is to provide our clients with a foundation from which they can grow and thrive,” said Sleeper.

“When I first came here, I was in a very bad place,” said Tori. “I didn’t want to leave the house, I was afraid to do anything. I kept asking myself ‘what did I do wrong.'”

Sleeper said it is common for victims of abuse to blame themselves and that part of the program offered at The Way Home provides access to social services, counselors and therapists for those in need.

All the while Tori was attending the ‘Steps to Success’ program and getting access to other forms of support, her son was also on his journey to better health. In addition to counseling for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Camren was getting tutoring help for school and a healthy dose of physical fitness through the Manchester Police Department’s PAL (Police Athletic League) program. At PAL, he is a member of the wrestling team and according to mom, “loves the competition and team aspect of the sport.”

Because of both programs, mom and son are now on a better path. Tori will graduate from the Transitional Living and “Steps to Success” program this spring and is planning a move for she and Camren to a new apartment; Camren is thriving as a grade schooler at the Beech Street School. He is also part of a new program at The Way Home known as the Kidz Club, where children of clients engage in community activities around health, volunteering, reading and school work.

And with an increase in confidence and self-esteem, Tori is contemplating her future with a new-found optimism.

“Camren and I have come a long way thanks to the wonderful support we’ve gotten from the staff at The Way Home,” she said. “We still have some steps to take, but we are definitely headed in the right direction.”