So I had found a place, a potential home but would it pass the Alaska Housing Inspection. This wasn’t the only exciting thing that was happening during that time. Whatelse could be as exciting you wonder? What else could be as important as finding a home? Answer… Getting services and help for Cecelia!
I had met with a STAR coordinator. What is STAR you wonder? Short Term Assistance and Referral (STAR) Program! I had an absolutely wonderful STAR coordinator. She came to the shelter and helped fill out the overwhelming paperwork for Cecelia’s disability. Through her help Cecelia was found to qualify as a Developmentally Disabled Child. She was eligible for state services and SSI. Cecelia was placed on the waiting list to determine her eligibility to receive Medicaid Waiver Services.
I had been told by many that Cece would be on the waiting list for years. I spoke to our STAR Coordinator and found out that I was eligible to receive respite care services while on the waiting list. Respite care, ok what’s that? Here’s how they defined it:
Respite Care: Caring for someone is hard work and we all need a break. Respite care is designed to give you a break while ensuring your loved one is well taken care of. FCS has people who can come into your home to care for the person you love while you go out and shop, go the doctor or just relax.
Well to a full-time widowed stay-at-home mom that sounds like heaven! They told me that they were sorry but that they could only offer me 10 hours of respite a week. That was the maximum allowed under the grant. Only 10 hours!!! I do not even get ONE hour ten hours seems like heaven on earth!! TEN HOURS!!! TEN HOURS that I get a break from Cecelia. TEN HOURS of time for just Glenna and I. TEN HOURS that Cecelia gets to spend with her respite worker, who is now a special friend, playing and having all kinds of fun, one on one, without the mommy or the sister!
So we found out about respite care but how was I going to be able to utilize this valuable service while staying at the shelter? I didn’t think that I’d be able to have respite care at the shelter so what would they do for the ten hours a week? I talked to the Shelter Manager and to my surprise she said of course the respite care worker can be in the shelter to provide services! The shelter provides services to disabled persons and have had PCA’s come provide services to shelter residents and respite care for Cecelia was no different.
Whew…that was refreshing. But fortunately with our housing inspection due to occur on July 1st I wouldn’t even have time to utilize respite care while at the shelter.
I was quickly learning that my idea that the first few days in the shelter were the hardest ever was grossly wrong. In fact it’s the last few days/weeks that you are there that is the hardest. I had the inspection scheduled, I’d made a deposit on our new home and now I just had to wait. I was hesistant about doing any packing because I feared that I might be tempting fate since the inspection hadn’t taken place yet.
So I had finally found a place to live, a new home but now it was time to hurry up and wait. The waiting was hmm how to describe it. I was excited, scared, nervous, anxious, happy, worried, and relieved all at the same time. I was excited and happy that I had a potential home. I was nervous, worried and anxious about the inspection. Would our new home pass the inspection required by Alaska Housing Corp. who were the ones providing us with our housing voucher.
I was scared and I was worried not only about the inspection but also of the fact that I had found a potential home. Yes that was scary. Since Segundo had died I had lived with now former friends in Ugashik and then got sucked into an abusive relationship. Despite how badly those living circumstances had been they had provided us with a home and in a screwed up controlling sort of way a sense of security and support.
I had been safe and secure in the shelter first at King Salmon then here in Kenai since November of 2010. The thought of being out on my own with the girls was very frightening. How could I do it? I had overcome my fear of taking the girls out an about Kenai by myself especially when I found a double stroller that I could safely secure both of them in. You see with Cecelia’s sensory integration issues having her out in public was very hard. She hadn’t been around so many people or cars or just general sensory overloading stimuli before.
The traffic scared her, the whizzing by of the cars was unpredictable and frightening for her. Airplanes are the worst. They completely overwhelm her and at first she’d try to run and hide in some place safe. Later she would cling to me and try to climb into my clothing. Now she covers her ears and announces that there is an airplane. Her sensory issues and lack of impulse control made it very scary to take her out. She would try to run away if she became overwhelmed. Not a safe thing to do when you are beside the Kenai Spur Highway!
Her impulse control also makes it hard for her to resist the urge to take off after something she sees that she wants. Her favorite things to go after are flowers, especially dandelions, berries and leaves. She can’t control herself. If she sees a dandelion she has to pick it and then give it to me to blow the fuzz/seeds off of it.
Also in overcoming the issues I had with taking the girls out involved the fact that if we went by cab I’d have to take not only two lil girls who are running around but also two carseats and usually a stroller. Not an easy task but now I have this whole system down! Also Cece doesn’t sprint off as much now, except for those darn dandelions!! There should be no concern whatsoever about the continuation of the dandelion population here in Kenai because Cecelia has more than adequately spread 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of seeds throughout the course of this spring/summer/fall.
Additionally I didn’t have much as far as furnishings for our new home. I had beds for the girls, some linens, two TV’s, some dishes and other things that I had collected from the shelter from the donations that came in but other than that we didn’t have much. I didn’t even have a bed for me.
There were many fears about leaving the shelter. These fears also included being alone, I had been at the shelter here in Kenai for nearly 5 months and was used to having support and someone to talk to 24/7. Not only was that lack of support scary but also being on my own with the girls. With Cece’s lack of impulse control how would I keep her safe in a home by myself? She had already mastered the childproof doorknobs so those weren’t going to work. What if she got out of the house and wandered away?? How could I keep her safe?
All these worries, fears and unknowns were torturous at the very least. But they weren’t the only feelings that were occurring. I was absolutely sick of being at the shelter. Now don’t get me wrong I was and am thankful that there are DV shelters but after being there nearly 5 months I wanted out. I wanted my own place. I wanted privacy, I wanted to only have to live by my own rules! I didn’t want a curfew. I didn’t want to have to share my living space with others who I felt weren’t very considerate.
I spoke to the advocates on many occasions about my fears, my worries, my conflicting emotions. I was assured that these were completely normal feelings. These feelings were a necessary normal step into my continued healing. Finding my strength, regaining my power.
Those days before the housing inspection were very long days. The big day arrived. I arranged for a sitter for during the inspection. I spent the day on pins and needles. I had talked to the housing inspector and had asked her some questions. Thankfully the most important question I asked her was “What are the most common issues that cause a failed housing inspection?”. She gave me a list of the most common issues and I called my landlord and told her and as I was on the phone with her she checked each item.
The time to leave for the inspection was quickly approaching…where was my sitter? Oh no!! I can’t take the girls with me to the inspection that would be a disaster! My babysitter who was also a resident of the shelter was running late, not that I can blame her b/c her and her 4 children were leaving the shelter that evening to fly to the lower 48 to escape her abuser. I made several calls and dropped the girls off at a friends. Thank goodness she was able to watch them!
I arrived at our potential new home. I had light bulbs and a flash light in my purse just in case, because I had heard that burnt out light bulbs were a common cause of inspection failure due to the fact that they couldn’t tell if the fixture was working if the bulb was burnt out.
The landlord and her husband were already there, finishing up on a few last minute things. This town home had been refurbished. There was new flooring/carpeting throughout. The kitchen had been gutted and new cabinets, sinks and appliances installed. New paint throughout and the uneconomical sliding glass door in the back had been replaced with a regular door.
The inspector arrived and started going down her check list. First issue…no smoke detector downstairs only one upstairs. The landlord grabbed one from her van and her husband installed it. Whew…first issue fixed. The inspector continues on. She checks the sinks for leaks, she checks the gas stove to insure it works properly, she checks all the light switches and outlets downstairs. Second issue…back porch light isn’t working. Pulled out a light bulb and replaced it and it worked fine. Second issue fixed. She goes upstairs. Checking outlets all along, inspects the bathroom, tests the water, flushes the toilet. All is good.
She goes into the master bedroom and is checking the outlets. Third issue one outlet isn’t working. I ask her will it fail the inspection if it doesn’t work? She says yes. Landlord tells her husband who goes out to their van and gets a new outlet and installs it while the inspector is going over paperwork with the landlord and me.
I am trying to not have a panic attack at this point. I didn’t want to have to schedule a second inspection. It was July 1st and we’d have to wait until after the holiday weekend!! The thought of having to spend another weekend in the shelter due to one single solitary faulty outlet was driving me crazy.
We fill out paperwork and the inspector goes upstairs to check on the progress of replacing the faulty outlet. She comes back downstairs. It’s fixed, the housing inspection is complete!!!!
Inspection PASSED!! We had a new home!!
It was all I could do to keep from hugging the inspector, my landlord, her husband, heck everyone in sight!!!! The lease was signed and witnessed by the inspector, we completed her paperwork which outlined how much I would have to pay in rent and how much the AK Housing Corp. would be paying.
I called my sister and shared the good news. She was coming over to pick me and the girls up to go shopping. It would take her a while to get there so I walked to my bank and pulled out cash to pay for my first, second and third months rent. Sharing with the bank teller why I was pulling out this money. We had a home!!!!! We were moving out of the shelter!!!
I walked back to my new home!! HOME!!! What an absolutely wonderful word…HOME!!! I paid my landlord my first three months rent and got a receipt and the keys to my new HOME!!! My sister arrived, picked me up and we went to my friends house to pick up the girls.
Sis then took us all to Walmart to buy massive amounts of stuff for our new home. A futon for the living room, microwave, coffee maker, pots and pans, alarms for the doors and windows, a table and chairs etc. It took two trips to Walmart and also my brother-in-law coming with his pick up to get everything to our new HOME!!! Thankfully my brother-in-law is a firefighter so he had no problems moving the bulky items into our new HOME!!! 😉
I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to spend one more night at the shelter. There was no way that I could get everything packed up and moved out of the shelter and into our new HOME that day. Plus the girls beds were still at my sisters house in her garage, so we went back to the shelter and had dinner. I shared the news with the advocates and other shelter workers. I was elated!!
I put the girls to bed that night, the last night in the shelter. As they slept I expended all my nervous energy by packing everything up. I made arrangements with another shelter resident to move everything the next morning. I finally managed to calm down enough to go to bed that night. Dreams of our new HOME filled my head. There were many emotions occurring but we had a HOME!!
to be continued…..