Thirteen years ago, Jodi was wandering around the streets of Columbus feeling hopeless.
She lived in her car, had no job prospects and was fighting an addiction she had no idea how to overcome. Her children were being cared for by someone else.
“I was sleeping in my car for a long time,” said Jodi. “I hit rock bottom. Rock bottom.”
When things looked like they could not get worse; someone stole her dog, her lifeline to a normal life. She prayed and promised God she would change if he brought some normalcy back to her life.
With the help of a friend, several United Way of Bartholomew County partner agencies and a plan, Jodi’s days of living in a car on the streets of Columbus have given way to her having saved enough money to buy her own home in 2021.
She credits past United Way president Doug Otto, Sans Souci’s executive director Sheryl Adams and Dawn Bieberle and Lincoln Central Family Neighborhood Center for steering her life back on track.
Her friend Cassy offered her a place to stay on the condition she seek help for her addiction and find a way to hold a steady job. Jodi thought about her life. She was convinced she could do it.
“I got a clean place to live and went with it,” she said.
Sans Souci employees agreed to hire her. Working daily at the thrift shop gave her purpose and allowed her to hold down a job. She was grateful for the help, but she knew the job wasn’t her ultimate goal. Sheryl knew too and sought out job training for her at Bartholomew County Works.
The mission of Bartholomew County Works is to assist motivated and capable people living in poverty to achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment. The program is offered through Lincoln Central Family Neighborhood Center, a partner agency to United Way of Bartholomew County.
Jodi walked to her classes at Bartholomew County Works each day. After completing the training, she was hired at a local manufacturing company.
Without a license and a vehicle, she was waking up at 2:30 a.m. to walk to work by her start time of 4:30 a.m.
Her housing situation shifted, and homelessness was looming again. Bartholomew County Works helped her harness the social services system to get stable housing and help with basic needs.
“They sent me to Love Chapel and Human Services, Inc., who helped me get temporary housing for three months,” said Jodi. “I saved all my paychecks and only spent what I had to.”
She eventually bought a car and continued taking classes to qualify for job promotions. Her children were able to move back in with her.
For eight months in late 2019 and early 2020, she worked two full time manufacturing jobs so she could get enough money to save for a house down payment.
She revels being able to pay her bills and care for her sons and mother.
“It feels really good, I never in a million years thought I would be here,” she said. “If you really want it, you can do it, there’s help out there."