INDIANAPOLIS — Sometimes all you really need is someone to believe in you.
“She is there to support me. She really, she makes me want to be better," 29-year-old Shazariea Wilson said of her caseworker, Audrey.
Just a few years ago, Wilson was struggling to escape a cycle of poverty, domestic violence, addiction and homelessness.
“There was people that was so rude and so hurtful towards me, that I didn’t know how to build myself up. Where’s my foundation? Basically, I didn’t have any foundation. I didn’t have no support system. I didn’t have nobody to back me up," Wilson said.
Then she found Horizon House, a Central Indiana-based non-profit committed to helping individuals experiencing homelessness.
“We have a passion for this population. We have an array of services. From street outreach to getting folks into housing, we’re there to support people along the way," Director of Housing Lillian Herbers-Kelly said.
So far this year, they’ve helped just over 1,600 unique individuals, which is ahead of pace from previous years.
“Our services really are indefinite. If folks are interested in continuing on, because we serve really vulnerable populations, recovery isn’t linear. Some folks have been in our program for four to five years. Every road bump we’re there to support and get on track," Herbers-Kelly said.
That was the case for Wilson who, after being set up with housing, unfortunately found herself back on the streets.
“I ended up getting on bad drugs. I ended up going down hill. They took over my place. And I ended up leaving," she said.
And again, Horizon House was there to support her.
“I had a debt of $2,000. They cleared the debt so I can move. They did that and talked to Section 8 so I could get the approval to move and I ended up moving somewhere else," Wilson said.
Today, Wilson is sober, in an apartment of her own, and studying Business Administration and Accounting at Ivy Tech.
She even has a 3.5 GPA!
“I do feel a little challenged. I’m at the beginning stage now. I’m trying to work on taking harder courses," she said.
Her biggest goal is to regain custody of her 7 and 3-year-old daughters.
Wilson’s story is similar to many women in Indianapolis experiencing homelessness.
Horizon House says women face additional barriers when it comes to breaking the cycle.
Their program consists of 20 percent women with children (families) and 50 percent women, in general.
80 percent of those women report being victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
“With it being national women’s month, feminine products are always helpful to be donated along with monetary donations as well," Herbers-Kelly said.
This month, Horizon House's theme is March Match-ness — individuals are encouraged to request others to “match” their donation.
Just $25 pays for one hour of case management and a donation of $100 will provide food to 25 people in Horizon House’s service center.
Horizon House currently serves an average of 150 neighbors per day through a variety of services including restrooms, showers, laundry, clothing, nourishment, mail delivery, case management and employment services.
Donations can be dropped off at their location at 1033 East Washington.