She was caught in an abusive relationship and had nowhere else to go. Nikki, her daughter and her son needed something more.
So they moved from Las Vegas to Georgia where they found a safe space, temporarily, with her sister.
“I was comfortable at my sister’s house. I didn’t have the push to change my life. I just went to work and came back and was comfortable,” Nikki said.
But not long after settling in, circumstances led Nikki and her family to need to move again – but they couldn’t afford rent anywhere.
A family friend told Nikki about Home of Hope, but she was uncertain.
“I did not want to go to a shelter. My friend told us that Home of Hope wasn’t like a regular shelter – that it would be a better place for me and my kids,” she said. “And when we got there, it really was a whole different story.”
In fact, there was a world of difference between Nikki’s expectations and the reality she found at Home of Hope.
“Home of Hope is like a home, not a shelter. From the rooms and how they’re set up to the way the staff acts with you to activities for the kids, things to do and gifts at holidays… They treat you like family,” Nikki said.
“Before, my life was all over the place. But the Home of Hope staff welcomes you with open arms and wants to help you get into your own place. When you’re having a bad day, they’re there to talk to and listen to you. And they push you to want to do better – towards the finish line.”
Nikki was in a tough place — emotionally and relationally and financially – because of her past circumstances. But thanks to equipping classes and lots of self-discipline, Nikki has moved from a state of dependence to independence.
“Because of Home of Hope, I learned to never give up and never settle,” she said. “I never thought I’d be able to get my own place because I didn’t think I could make enough money. But when I got to the home, they showed me how to fix my credit and taught me how to manage money.
“I came to Home of Hope with $0 in my bank account, and I left with $10,000 in my savings.”
After spending a year at Home of Hope, Nikki and her kids have now lived for more than six months in their own apartment – an amazing step towards some of her goals for the future.
“My goal is to have a house by the time I turn 35. I also want to go back to school to be a nurse and to be able to not live paycheck to paycheck, but to live comfortably.” Nikki said.
“I also want to be an inspirational speaker – to use my story to help other people. At Home of Hope, they would sometimes have people come and speak to us, and it made me feel better to know that I’m not the only one going through hard times.”
Having a group of people rallying around her and pushing her forward was just the encouragement Nikki needed.
“When you have a support team, life is so much easier, because you want to finish to make them proud; you don’t want to fail them,” she said. “I didn’t have that [support] in Vegas. In fact, I didn’t have anyone to call on or talk to.
“But the other moms at the Home didn’t judge me, because we were all in the same boat. And seeing the other moms grow makes you want to do better.
“We would meet in [the common areas] and just talk. One [of the other moms] didn’t think she’d be able to get out on her own, but she and her three boys were the first ones to get their own place. And I still talk to some of the moms I met at Home of Hope. One of them and her 2-year-old daughter just graduated out and now lives in the same apartment complex as me.”
Nikki has a message of encouragement for young women in the same position she was in — especially for those who are hesitant to ask for help.
“Home of Hope really is a place for change, and if you give it a chance, things will work out for the best,” she said. “When you hear ‘shelter’, you feel embarrassed and don’t want anyone to know you’re there – that’s how I was when I first came.
“But I don’t even want to call it a shelter; it’s a home away from home. The staff is super nice, and even when you leave, they’re still there to help you. They helped us find our apartment and even helped with our Thanksgiving.”
And Nikki’s message to the Home of Hope staff and donors comes from a heart filled with appreciation.
“If it wasn’t for Home of Hope, we’d have had nowhere to live – we probably would’ve had to go back to Vegas.
“To the staff: I don’t know where I’d be right now [without you]. Home of Hope honestly saved my life and my kids’ lives and just put us on a better path than we were on,” she said.
“To the donors: You’re using your donations for the right thing. You put smiles on our kids’ faces. We get good meals every day. Even without family around, we feel like we’re with family.
“You really helped us, so thank you to Home of Hope for opening a door for me and my kids. Home of Hope is a blessing.”