For years, Kelsey struggled with unstable housing, couch surfing from home to home.
But when she found out she was pregnant, she knew she had to make a change.
That’s when she came to LCCM’s former shelter and resource center, HOPES, which was located on North Ninth Street in Lebanon.
She was only there for a couple of weeks before she left. She didn’t realize it then, but the shelter was about to play a prominent role in her life after the birth of her son.
Still struggling to find a stable housing environment, she sought refuge at FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center when her son AJ was just two weeks old.
'It's about my son:' Single mom credits FRESH Start with changing her life, helping to provide stability for toddler
As a new mom, Kelsey arrived during the grand opening of FRESH Start in 2017 when operations were moved from the downtown Lebanon location to the LCCM building.
When you give to LCCM, you're changing lives like Kelsey's and AJ's. Help us continue doing vital work in the community as we provide emergency services such as food and shelter, as well as guidance, support and stability to adults and children in Lebanon County. We do this always in Christ's name.
It was at FRESH Start where staff members fell in love with AJ.
“He’s like their baby,” she said.
Having been in the shelter for close to nine months, AJ experienced a lot of firsts.
“He learned how to crawl in here and everything,” she said. “Trying to get him to walk, sit up, all those little first things, he did here.”
Kelsey said staff became more like family and helped encourage her and build her confidence.
“From being here for as long as I was, we kind of formed that relationship, that bond,” she said. “They were so straightforward with me. If it weren’t for them breathing down my neck, I don’t think I would have been able to do what I had done in the amount of time that I did it!”
She got a job at Kmart as a cashier and was quickly promoted to a supervisor position. She saved money and was able to move out of the shelter in early 2018 with AJ and moved in with a family friend.
She soon found out she was pregnant with her daughter, Olivia. After the birth of her daughter, she returned to work, but was having financial difficulties and granted her mother partial custody of her daughter.
She ended up having to move again, and this time it was in the Ebenzer area, right outside of Lebanon. She had to leave her job because she couldn’t drive or find a babysitter for AJ.
They lived at this residence for about two years, but due to a change in the rental’s ownership, she and AJ had to move out.
She was welcomed back to FRESH Start with open arms in October with AJ - now a vibrant and very active 3-year-old – so she has time to rebuild her life again.
Kelsey hopes to return to retail work in Lebanon to save money and get steady housing.
Her hope for the future is that she can build a life that will allow AJ to flourish in school and lead a happy, healthy life.
Lebanon County Christian Ministries