Family is everything for Liz. Everything.
In 2018, Liz had three young children and a fourth on the way and the main priority in her life was to flee.
Liz was in the middle of a domestic violence relationship and for her safety, and the safety of her family, she had to find a way out. So, she packed up the kids and headed north of the Massachusetts border and found herself darkening the doorway of Seacoast Family Promise. To safety. To a new beginning.
“I had nowhere to go, and I called a lot of agencies, desperate to get into a shelter,” she says. “I came here looking for a shelter and Seacoast Family Promise took me right in. Nobody answered but Pati.”
It was a quick turnaround, a rapid pivot from hopelessness to hope: Liz and Pati Frew-Waters, Executive Director of Seacoast Family Promise, held their intake interview and that weekend Liz and her kids were part of the Seacoast Family Promise community.
Not that there wasn’t a period of adjustment. Back then, the previous shelter model was in use, with families moving from church to church, worship center to worship center for their housing, which was a challenge at first for Liz’s kids.
“I came here looking for a shelter and Seacoast Family Promise took me right in. Nobody answered but Pati.”
But, eventually, they settled into the routine, which was 100% intentional by Liz. Routine. Normalcy. Predictability in an unpredictable world.
“The first thing I did was to enroll them in school and start doing activities, like going to the library,” she says. “I tried to make sure we always had stuff going on and it was helpful that so much that happens at Seacoast Family Promise is hands-on, like working in the vegetable garden. I just kept trying to keep myself busy and keep them busy.”
Of course, she couldn’t do too much since she was five months pregnant at the time. (“I literally went through my whole pregnancy at the Seacoast Family Promise Day Center just helping out!” she says.)
That baby eventually came, and Liz decided to make a move to better herself and put her family on a firm path to stability. She went to school. Specifically, LNA school, which was conveniently located near the Day Center in Exeter.
Then she got a job a little further down the road as an LNA at Exeter Hospital. And then, a year after she came to Seacoast Family Promise, she and her family found a home in Portsmouth.
“I just love helping people,” she says. “I especially love helping older people in rehab and getting them ready to get back to their homes. I think that’s my purpose.”
You just have to spend a few moments talking to Liz to see that purpose manifested. She is a nuclear reactor of positive energy; “I get ‘your smile is contagious’ a lot,” she says laughing.
That energy was felt by the people she served as an LNA and Liz leveraged her unique perspective as someone who fought through her own dark periods to bring a positive light to her work.
“Sometimes it was hard to get my patients motivated,” she says. “But I just keep pushing and encouraging them, because life is hard.”
Yes, life is hard. But Liz is the proof of the power of the human spirit to overcome.
Today, she is newly married. Her husband, Manny, similarly emerged from a tough relationship and brought his children into the new family– which, all told, numbers nine. Mom, dad, seven kids…and another on the way.
You just need to see them all together, the energy, the laughter, the closeness, to know this: Liz has found her purpose.