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Former shelter resident shares her story of hope

By Sinead Taylor | December 4, 2020 | 3 min read | Community Health, Investments, Public Health Challenges

Destiny holds her son Abel in front of their new car with one hand raised in victory

Destiny Bottoms remembers what it was like when she first entered The Shepherd’s House (TSH) two years ago.

“I felt alone when first walking through these doors,” she said. “I knew no one. Everything was pretty scary.”

She was a new mother who had just lost custody of her 3-day old son, Abel.

“He was taken from me at the hospital due to drug use in the home, even though I was sober throughout the whole pregnancy,” said Destiny.

Child Protective Services feared that Destiny’s custody case would impact her sobriety, which would lessen her chances of being reunited with Abel. So, through a court hearing, she was ordered to join TSH program to rebuild her life and regain custody of Abel.

“They said if you want this child back, this is what you have to do,” said Destiny.

The effects of substance use disorders are far-reaching. It impacts not only the person suffering, but their loved ones as well. Treatment for substance use disorders vary widely, but often include a combination of medication, behavioral health counseling and lifestyle changes.

Restoring Hope, Rebuilding Lives

TSH provides emergency shelter and support services for individuals and families in Surry and surrounding counties. Its mission is to end the cycle of homelessness by helping its clients achieve self-sufficiency.

In addition to shelter, TSH helps clients with:

  • Counseling
  • Securing employment
  • Transportation
  • A 24-hour crisis line
  • Budgeting and financial management

Within days of entering the shelter, Destiny found a job and was later granted a trial home placement with three-month old Abel.

“Had I slipped up, lost my job or relapsed, they would’ve been able to take him from me,” she said.

With support and guidance from TSH staff, Destiny continued to build a better life for her and her son.

In July 2019, Destiny graduated from TSH with full custody of Abel and a new place for them to call home. She credits her rehabilitation success to the staff.

“It didn’t feel like I was going to make it to this point,” said Destiny. “If it hadn’t been for the staff leading and guiding me, I don’t know if I would have made it this far.”

TSH helped furnish her and Abel’s new home with basic furniture items including a couch and bed. And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mary Boyles, executive director of TSH, called Destiny and offered her a staff position.

Now, she’s a case manager at the shelter where she connects clients to critical resources like clothing, food assistance and transportation to meet their needs.

“Whenever we get a new client in here, I try to make it as personable as I can,” said Destiny. “I just like to be there for them and let them know that they’re not alone during this journey. There is hope and there is a new beginning out there.”

Destiny holds her son Abel in front of the Christmas tree. He looks at the camera while she smiles at him.
Destiny and her son, Abel

Capital campaign

As the only homeless shelter in Mount Airy, the demand for TSH services continues to increase. In 2019, the nonprofit turned down 504 people, including 276 children – due to a lack of shelter space.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has invested $100,000 in TSH to support the organization’s capital campaign to build a new facility that will increase its housing capacity from 18 to 48 residents per night. The new infrastructure will include:

  • A commercial kitchen that will house a free culinary program feeding those in need.
  • Private offices to hold supportive services like budgeting education and medication management.
  • An elevator to better assist handicapped clients.

It is scheduled to open in spring 2021.

To learn more about Blue Cross NC’s community investments supporting North Carolinians, click here. For more information on The Shepherd’s House, visit their website.