For Liz Ledoux, the line between stability and homelessness was finer than she thought. The journey home would begin anew.
It was tradition.
Every Sunday morning, the Ledoux family would squeeze into a booth at their favorite diner for breakfast. The pancakes, the hash browns, the bacon, the eggs; they may not have been kingly feasts, but for a family of five and at a cost of $35 or so, the outings were happy diversions, a weekend perk, a luxury.
A few months later they were homeless.
In the fall of 2006, Liz and her fanily made a fateful decision: they left their apartment. Exasperated by the strained relationship with their landlord, they opted to move, confident they would be able to find a new place.
Having underestimated the costs of starting over and lacking the cash for both the first month’s payment and the security deposit for a new apartment, they watched as, one by one, every living option dried up. They were stuck.
A period of “couch-surfing” ensued: seven days in Nashua with Liz’s sister-in-law, two nights with her other sister-in-law, three days in Hooksett with a friend. Nearly a month later and with finances teetering on a knife’s edge, the Ledouxs were calling a small room in an Epping motel home.
“I was just on auto-pilot,” Liz recounted. “You do what you have to do for your family. You do what you have to do at the time.”
It was the week before Thanksgiving when the money completely evaporated and, desperate, penniless and eight months pregnant, Liz found herself standing at the door of Seacoast Family Promise.
“Asking for help is so difficult for us,” she says. “But no one made us feel like a burden. We came to embrace the volunteers and staff as an extended family.”
One week after their intake, Grant was born, five minutes before Alan’s birthday, at 11:55 p.m. Though there was no permanent home for Liz to take her newborn, she was grateful nevertheless.
“I remember thinking how thankful I was,” Liz says. “We may not have had a house but we had somewhere to go where he could be safe.”
The days would roll together and for 10 months Seacoast Family Promise worked with the Ledouxs on their financial planning, helping them pay down their debt, open CDs at the credit union, and painstakingly rebuild their credit.
Then, one day in February, at the urging of Pati Frew-Waters, Executive Director of Seacoast Family Promise, Liz and her husband filled out an application for Habitat for Humanity. Five months later Pati surprised Liz with a phone call.
“I was bracing myself, thinking, ‘Now what?’” Liz remembers.
However, this news was joyous. Their application had been approved; their days in a shelter were over. The next month, following a visit to the bank and the signing of closing papers, Liz was driving up a side street in Farmington, her son in the back seat, heading for her new house.
“I remember the day I drove down that street and realizing for the first time in two years, I was bringing my son home," she says. "I learned how temporary things can be. But I also learned that no matter how tough times are, we can face them as a family and overcome them. We’re stronger now. ”
Now, there are new traditions.