Once homeless women find help they need at Nurture Home in Aiken
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which ends Sunday, has a special meaning for Carrie Walker and Ada Darren.
But their stories are positive ones because they have overcome their struggles with the assistance of Mental Health America of Aiken County’s Nurture Home.
Nurture Home is a transitional shelter for single women. Any children they have also can stay there.
The facility offers various forms of counseling and assistance, and its goal is to help homeless women become self-sufficient.
Walker recently moved out of Nurture Home into an apartment.
Darren and her three children are preparing to leave Nurture Home in February of next year.
“Nurture Home gave me stability and was a place where I could be still, gather my thoughts and find out which steps I needed to take in order to be successful,” Walker said. “It’s great that I’ve been able to come to this point where I can transition out and know that I will not be homeless again.”
Raised in Aiken, Walker was living in Greenwood when she lost her job as scheduler for outpatient services at a hospital.
“I had just purchased a car,” she said. “I tried to find employment, but I wasn’t able to find anything. Then I had some problems with depression, and I came back to Aiken and was staying with family and friends. I finally ended up going to the Salvation Army, and that’s when I was told about Nurture Home.”
The type of assistance the facility provided surprised Walker.
“I knew they were going to give me some help, but I didn’t realize that it would be a program that was individualized and based on my needs,” she said. “They were very instrumental in helping me work through my disability claim, and I was able to get it approved.”
Walker also received counseling at the Aiken Barnwell-Mental Health Center.
“I found that to be very helpful, and I am no longer depressed,” she said.
Darren, who used to live on the Georgia side of the Savannah River in the Augusta area, has a 5-year-old son and two daughters who are 11 and 7.
“I was working as a store manager at Dollar General, and I got sick and lost my job,” she said. “My son and I went to a Salvation Army shelter. I sent my girls to my cousin in Aiken.”
Nurture Home offered Darren an opportunity to reunite her family and to develop a plan moving forward for her life.
“They opened up their home to me, didn’t judge me and showed genuine love,” Darren said. “When I first came. I was going through a lot, and I was pretty much stressed out about everything. With the counseling they provided, I’m now in a good spot there I feel like I can handle the pressure if it occurs.”
A job at Fort Gordon didn’t work out because it was difficult to make the finances work based on its pay schedule and the fact that Darren had to commute from Aiken.
But she was able to get work locally at Kroger.
“I am confident about transitioning out of Nurture Home,” Darren said.
For more information about Mental Health America and Nurture Home, call 803-641-4164 or visit mha-aiken.org.