This is my Story.
March 2020, threw our country a curveball called, COVID-19. At Harbor House, we remained open to serve our community but had to quickly evolve the way we are providing services to clients.
Our 1:1 advocacy moved to a virtual/phone setting, we are updating educational resources to be on an online platform, we began meeting (virtually) with our partner agencies daily to gain knowledge from each other, we also felt a new sense of gratitude to call our building our home. Since our Building Hope Campaign’s completion in early 2019, our facility now gives us the space to have one family in one bedroom and one adult in one bedroom. This set up has also allowed us to give our residents their own space to isolate to keep themselves safe and healthy during this COVID-19 outbreak. We have been able to create mini “suites” by combining adjacent bedrooms with one room being their bedroom and turning the other room into a living room/kitchen for individuals coming into shelter either from a COVID-19 hotspot or that have tested positive for the virus to self-quarantine for 14 days. This is a huge ask and commitment for individuals that were seeking safe shelter during the Safer at Home order. One survivor who stayed with us during the past few months shines a light on her experience and story.
“Prior to coming to Harbor House I was informed that we would need to take special precautions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Coming from Chicago which was a hotspot made it pertinent for my daughter and me to quarantine and try not to spread the virus. I was informed that quarantine would last for 14 days and would not be able to leave our room. On the bright side, staff would bring us food and any essentials as well as check our temperature 2x daily to monitor our health. The situation my daughter and I came from was very toxic; so being in a room that has a lock on the door where no strangers would come into at any given moment was a relief. I didn’t have to sleep with one eye open anymore. I was not being harassed or threatened and my daughter could speak to me without fear of someone being triggered by our conversation and lashing out. Having privacy for once was refreshing. I appreciated how kind and caring the staff was, even with the novel coronavirus pandemic and the fear of exactly how it is transmitted and not knowing if someone is infected and asymptomatic the staff was still attentive caring and treated us like human beings. One of the first days in quarantine I remember a staff member knocked on the door and had a box of snacks for us and when I opened the door we both kind of stood there like how do we remain socially distant while exchanging items. Obviously, before the pandemic putting a box of food on the floor by your door was a bit taboo and handing it to someone would be more respectful but now it was different. We both had our masks, I washed my hands and yet still was not quite sure what to do; this was new to us. So after the awkward moment of staring at each other’s masked faces she finally said here I’ll just put this right here. The first couple of days it was great being in quarantine. My daughter and I were able to bond more so that before. We laughed, watched movies, played games, read books, did crafts; you name it!
I was asked how the quarantine correlated with the abuse I have been through and honestly, it was the complete opposite. For once in a very long time, my daughter and I were safe! No yelling, no mind games, no rage, or random items being thrown and damaged or taken. It was nice, peaceful, and quiet. Towards the end of quarantine, we did get a little anxious to go for walks or play at parks but we weren’t the only ones having to stay home. The entire nation closed down most of the recreational activities and even if we weren’t in quarantine we couldn’t do much anyway. We did get quite creative as most people have during isolation. We started participating in daily zoom calls with my daughter’s friends from her daycare and that became a highlight of our days. She wasn’t isolated to just communicating with me. The staff was very thoughtful and responsive. There were times they would come to our room with toys and books and games that really helped the time pass; as soon as we began getting bored with one they seemed to time it perfectly and came with something new for us to play.
The doxy and zoom meetings with advocates and house meetings really helped me get through quarantine as well. I had at a minimum an hour a day of adult conversation and reassurance that everything is going to be ok it just needs a little time. I naturally am a planner so I started planning how we were going to transition to self-sustainability. Having my advocate available to discuss my goals and plans helped maintain a sense of ownership and responsibility for how to move forward; not to mention gave me accountability to keep moving forward and stay focused instead of falling into a deep depression. Waking up and focusing on self-care was a must to ensure I didn’t lose my sanity. My daughter and I would wake up and do our morning routine as we would if we would go somewhere. We would make a game out of what day it was. Sometime she would remember and sometimes I had to remind her.
I did have some difficulty in quarantine personally it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows. I had time to text and talk to my mother who was in the hospital. My daughter would draw and color pictures that we would text to her. It was nice to be able to talk when she had time on her schedule. Usually, I was always busy and couldn’t answer or talk but being in quarantine gave me time to answer. Unfortunately right before we got out of quarantine my mother informed me that she tested positive for Covid-19. This created so many emotions, sadness, anger that a hospital could allow her to contract this virus while she was there for something else. It also ignited fear, the virus was evident but it really hit home when my mother tested positive. She was able to speak and unfortunately the day after our quarantine ended she was put into ICU and on a ventilator. She passed away a little over 2 weeks after and I still am processing her loss and the mixtures of emotion and feelings that coincide with that. But in regards to the staff, volunteers and advocates I am forever grateful that they have been here for me and my daughter. This has been what feels like a rollercoaster for me and having people who specialize in various fields that focus on my needs is a great help. I don’t feel alone or crazy. So many times I was told I am crazy or paranoid and having someone who listens to the entire story without cutting me off and validates my emotions really does help with the healing process.”
– a survivor staying at Harbor House during the COVID pandemic
Harbor House is open and will remain open to serve our community. All of our programs including one-on-one advocacy, support groups, shelter, legal support, and independence empowerment services are all available. If you or someone you love is in need of support, we are here 24/7 to answer your call at 920-832-1667.
Together we Rise.