Homeless In Spokane: One Woman’s Story Of Hope And Survival - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Homeless In Spokane: One Woman’s Story Of Hope And Survival

SPOKANE, Wash. – Imagine having no income, no car, no home and children to support.

It's a world many of us know nothing about; but the 2012 Point In Time Count of the Spokane area shows there are roughly 170 homeless families in our region for whom that is the reality.

Cheryl Palmer is one of them.

She moved here from Yakima in February with her two daughters, Rebecca, 19, and Christine, 11.  She's lived through a flood at one home, a fire at another, and has overcome substance abuse and a controlling relationship that she describes as physically and emotionally abusive.

"Little by little you don't even know who you are any more," Cheryl told KHQ.  "You don't know what to do.  You're scared to get out but you're scared to leave."

But now, her family is safe; they call the Union Gospel Mission Crisis Shelter in Spokane home.

All of Cheryl's life – everything she owns – is in a few plastic tubs in her room.  She sleeps on a bunk bed beneath her youngest daughter, and shares her room with another family.  Her daughter, Rebecca, works at the mission helping other get settled in.

"I'm really, really proud of her," Rebecca said of her mom.

Cheryl spends her days reading her Bible, spending time with her kids, and looking for full-time work.

"I've probably put 70 applications out there," she said, flipping through a stack of resumes.

While fighting to get her life back on track, Cheryl is also fighting the stigma and stereotypes surrounding homelessness.

"People think we're here because we're not trying, or we've blown all our money," she said.  "Everybody's scared to come here thinking that people will look down on them.  But once you get here, it means you want help to pick yourself back up."

That's exactly what Cheryl is doing.

Drawing and colorful reminders of hope and her future are posted in her room:

"No matter what our lives are like that day, I can look at this and think, ‘Okay, let's forget about that.'"

Her positive attitude and genuine smile show just how much she's changed.

Right now, Cheryl has a good lead on a full time job, and looks forward to getting back in her own home.  She wants to eventually go back to school and become a counselor to help other women who are overcoming challenges in their own lives.

"Since I've been here it's like I've finally found out who I really am," she said, tears almost in her eyes.  "All these years I've been hiding myself behind a mask."

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