Homeward Bound: Leaving the big city behind for a better life
Detroit was the only home Stacy Marcell Harper had ever known, so leaving all that was familiar should have been difficult. But making the decision to leave was easy. It was everything that led up to that decision that was hard. As a divorced, single parent she wanted the best for her son Justin, 12, and her daughter, Ta’sia, 11.
Stacy said leaving Detroit was a “survival call.”
Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, hitting 15.6% in July this year. The headlines have mainly focused on Detroit’s troubled auto industry. GM, Chrysler and Ford have become synonymous with layoffs, bankruptcy and restructuring. What we often don’t hear about is the trickle down effect of all these auto workers jumping into the job pool and competing for the few employment opportunities out there.
Competing with people like Stacy who lost what she called a good job in the medical field three years ago after she got sick. Armed with an associate’s degree and years of experience, she took whatever work she could find. But nothing ever equaled the salary she once made; there was never enough money to pay all the bills. Including the rent. Stacy and her kids were evicted several times until they finally had no place to go.
Stacy said the homeless shelters in the city of Detroit have become overcrowded with families like her own fighting for space. So, she took the kids and headed to a shelter in the suburbs where she spent months looking for steady work while the kids went to school. She put her name on a waiting list for federal housing assistance but said she was told it would take years for it to come through. This was not the life she wanted for her family.
She wanted a place to call home and a job that would cover the bills, so she started researching her options online and found the answer to her hard work and prayers in what some would think the unlikeliest place for a life-long city girl: Cheyenne, Wyoming. In this video story you will see the strength and courage of a determined mother who travels more than 1,200 miles in search of a better life.
And be sure to check back soon for a story on COMEA House, the homeless shelter and resource center in Cheyenne that helped Stacy adjust to her new life and welcomed her with “open arms.”