PHOENIX -- In five years, the Department of Veterans Affairs wants no veteran to be homeless. But it’s a problem that one Valley woman knows all too well. Sheri Wilson served our country for years and when she found herself with no place to live, help was just a phone call away.
“I really wanted to go to college and serve my country,” Wilson said.
The Navy was Wilson's life for six years. She was stationed in San Diego.
“The bachelor’s degree opened up the door for me to go work with a consulting firm and work on military systems,” Wilson said.
The college degree she got while in the Navy definitely helped Wilson when she left active duty in 2001. But while life was great, it was turned upside down when she lost custody of her son.
“It didn't work out in my favor, so I came here,” Wilson said.
Wilson moved to the Valley two years ago to be near her mom. But when her mother died, Wilson's support system was gone.
“I wasn't able to keep an apartment with the person I was living with, so I sought help from a local shelter,” Wilson said.
Wilson was homeless. This is a problem affecting veterans across the country. Reports estimate that more than 100,000 of them nationwide are homeless on any given night.
“We have helped with rental assistance,” Joan Sisco said. “We have some organizations and individuals who have donated money for that specific purpose.”
Sisco is the president of Veterans First. Her non-profit along with Community Housing Partnership have collaborated to provide affordable housing for women veterans at Mary Ellen's Place.
“Our main goal is to help them get back on their feet,” Sisco said.
“I cried because you don't just get the furniture and appliances, you get food, you get care packages, basket of women things that you need,” Wilson said.
Wilson lives in one of the 15 furnished studio apartments at Mary Ellen's Place. It's not only a place to sleep, but she has access to computers as well as everything from a community library to kitchen.
‘What I get from Mary Ellen's Place is a nice, cozy, quiet environment and safety,” Wilson said.
Things are definitely looking up for Wilson. Since coming to Mary Ellen's Place more than four months ago, she can now pay rent and has a job.
“I'm a perfect example that there is hope and there is help,” Wilson said. “It's only up from here.”
For more information on Mary Ellen’s Place or how to donate log onto veteransfirstltd.org.