Dessie moved in her CASA apartment just in time to ring in 2016 in her new home. She had been on CASA’s waiting list since 2010. At 58 years old, she spent the summer and fall of 2015 living in her car.
As a young woman, Dessie was a union representative in an automotive factory. She came to North Carolina years ago for freedom from an abusive relationship and a fresh start. She found a nice apartment in Raleigh and lived there for five years. “I never missed a payment,” she says. “But I was a day late renewing the lease. And that left me on the street going from shelter to shelter to shelter.”
When she lost her apartment, Dessie didn’t have any savings to fall back on. She tried a couple different shelters, but, she explains, “I couldn’t get a bed because women and children came first. I didn’t know which way to go, where to turn.” Dessie remembers this as the darkest time in her life. Dessie sought help and found a good counselor who helped her until CASA had an apartment for her.
The day she signed her lease, Dessie had tears of relief streaming down her face. “If I could do a cartwheel,” she said, “I’d do a cartwheel.” After she moved in, Dessie went to collect some belongings from her storage unit, only to find that her furniture was covered in mold and had to be thrown out. Dessie went to The Green Chair Project, where the volunteers helped her pick out a couch, matching rug, and other items to furnish her home for an affordable price. With their help, she has completely furnished her apartment. She has decorated her new coffee table and bookshelves with family photos and treasured knick-knacks.
“I moved in here and I was so happy,” she remembers. “I was so happy to have my own place. I love it. It’s home, and I love being home.”