Homeless 600 nights, woman now has a place to call her own

The story of two families and their seasons of hope

Published: Sunday, Dec. 23 2012 11:30 a.m. MST

"It's very easy to get into trouble," she said. "I chose not to, and (God) blessed me. I chose the right road. Prayers go up and blessings come down. I didn't only pray for myself; I prayed for others."

Bonds said it was this faith that sustained her, and she thinks of the years of homelessness as a trial of that faith.

"He's said, 'If you have the faith of a mustard seed, I can do wonders in your life,'" she said, referring to scripture. "He was testing me. But he said, 'Once you go through trials and tribulations, you become like gold.' I'm gold now. Just a little nugget."

She said she used to get depressed. She said she tried to take her own life at least once. Now, she said, she realizes life is a gift and it's getting better.

"If I start to feel depressed, I look around me and think, 'You know what? I have nothing to be depressed about. I have a roof over my head. I have food in my fridge and in my cupboards,'" she said.

Bonds said when Jesus was on the earth, he didn't have a home. If he could live without a home, she decided she could, too. She made him a promise, should a home for her come up.

"I told God, 'You give me this home, you are here and you are welcome any time.' And I feel his presence," she said. "God is good. All the time, God is good. I know I'm one of his because he looked out for me. … I finally have the home I've been dreaming of."

The Williams family

From her family's corner at The Road Home's Midvale shelter, Theresa Williams continued to dream of a holiday at a home of her own with her husband and her two children.

"I want a purple frosted Christmas tree with the matching lights and our families — my other son, my sister — in our own home," she said. "We'll get it, too. We will."

For now, it's a small camp, about 6 feet long and 6 feet wide. Most of their belongings — the ones they sat with and guarded in the rain on the curb near 210 Rio Grande in October — were put into the truck of an acquaintance who was supposed to drive it to the shelter in Midvale.

"We never saw it again," Williams said. "So this is it. Right here."

She points to a mound covered in blankets that includes three cots, one for Theresa, one for her husband, Darren, and another for their 11-year-old, Skyler. Their older son, Sterling, continues to live with a friend in West Valley City, for stability.

Williams, often full of charm and optimism, seems tired. She said the distance from his family has started to take its toll on Sterling and the family is struggling with going another Christmas without a home.

They were able to go to Candy Cane Corner and pick out gifts, but it didn't ease the frustration of the situation.

"I'm grateful for whatever to help my kids," she said. "It's all about them. It's (Darren and my) fault we are where we are. They're getting tired of it, and so are we."  

The woman who once said she never could have imagined she would be homeless has now been so for more than a year. It's long enough to earn her family a designation as chronically homeless, which she said has actually opened up a number of programs to them. The family continues to search online and through lists provided to them for housing that they can keep long-term.

"I don't want to come back," Williams said. "I really don't. When I get out, I want to stay out."

She said too often they see someone leave the shelter only to return again.

"People can't pay and are right back here. We've seen people come and go," she said. "I'm not leaving until I'm for sure we're not coming back. I don't want to move and move again. I like it to be stable."

Both Theresa and Darren Williams are still seeking employment. She understands that a lot of property owners don't want to rent to people who don't have jobs.

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