Samantha : The Winter Sanctuary

United Way’s 2018 Campaign Ambassador Samantha is a past guest of the Winter Sanctuary’s Homeless Shelter Services and Client Advocacy Program. This program is supported by United Way and refers guests to community resources to further their goals of working toward securing safe, sustainable housing, and finding meaningful employment. Guests have a stable place to stay while organizing their efforts towards independence.

The Winter Sanctuary provides guests with the basics: shelter, food, and clothing. Samantha says that these were her main concerns when she was faced with no place to go: “where am I going to sleep tonight? What am I going to eat tonight?” More than an emergency shelter though, the Winter Sanctuary’s advocacy service offers clients the support to set goals toward independent stable housing and help to map out the steps necessary to achieve those goals. Sam explained “I felt like a complete burden. I hate asking for help to begin with.” Instead of having to ask for help, the guest speaks with an advocate who takes the time to understand the guest’s unique situation which may include a drug problem, a lost job, even a mental health issue. The advocate then connects them to resources, builds a relationship, so that the guest can improve their situation in a way that they define in their goals. The advocated understand that each guest has their own individual challenges and connects them with the the resources to remove barriers to the goals of becoming independent and to not to have to stay at the shelter.

For many of the shelter guests who go through intake, set their goals, and speak with the advocate, it is powerful to set those goals and to have someone tell them that they believe in them. The guests are able to take ownership of their path to independence. Samantha explained “You have to constantly keep working on yourself.” She was empowered by her experience in the shelter and was able to find the self-esteem to find employment and an apartment. She said that because of the Homeless Shelter Services and Client Advocacy Program at the Winter Sanctuary supported by United Way, she felt that she had “a lot of people supporting me and pushing me to better myself - that’s how I had the confidence.”

This United Way partner program gave her a silver lining – meaning that through her hardship, she found something to be grateful for. By donating to United Way of Knox County’s Campaign, you will be supporting the Homeless Shelter Services and Client Advocacy Program and the other local programs that United Way implements or invests in. Give, Advocate, Volunteer. LIVE UNITED.