Finally a Place to Call Home
Five years ago, 19-year-old Whitney Whitson had a baby on each hip and nowhere to go. Now, 25 years old with an education, a career and two beautiful daughters, Whitson will be closing on her first home Monday thanks to help she found with Volunteers of America.
“I wanted better for my kids. I wanted the cycle to stop with me," Whitson said.
After having her second daughter at age 19, Whitson was forced to leave her mother's house and found a transitional housing program for single parents, Warren Village. There she worked hard to learn parenting skills, give her girls quality education, and begin a stable career in medical administration.
When it came time to leave transitional housing and live on her own, the home she found turned out not to be the kind of environment she dreamed of for her daughters.
“It wasn't that the homes were bad, or made you not want to live there, it was the people. They would let their kids run crazy, cussing at 7-years-old.
“There was a lot of domestic violence there. You don't even get involved and a girl will run to your door because she can see your light on which, of course, will cause the man to follow her," Whitson said, “And that is just not what I wanted at all."
At just the right time in her life, Whitson was referred to Volunteers of America Brunetti Lofts, a residential program aimed at homeownership. Residents living at Volunteers of America Brunetti Lofts are offered an income-based rent for their one to three bedroom apartment in Denver's Five Points neighborhood. This allows the apartment's 23 renters to save money and plan for home buying.
“The homeownership piece is huge," Kirsten Strietzel, Family Service Manager at Brunetti Lofts, said as she described that most residents at Brunetti Lofts have come from transitional housing situations.
While living a Brunetti, residents get the opportunity to participate in classes on finance, budgeting and the home buying process. Residents are given a gift of $7,000 from Volunteers of America to combine with the savings they build during their time at Brunetti Lofts and put towards their down payment on a house.
Brunetti Lofts offers more than just financial support and classes, Strietzel is there for residents as they are making huge life changes. Whitson described bringing Strietzel and a family advocate from Warren Village along to her first open house.
“I was nervous…I didn't know what questions to ask," Whitson said, “They were also really helpful because I live here on my own; I don't have any family here."
“We will definitely go and ask those questions and be supportive," Strietzel said.
Whitson's house is a new three bedroom house and is a part of Denver's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Whitson says her new home is in a community where her kids can play outside and she can enjoy the neighborhood.
Whitson's success story embodies her determination and how a helping hand from organizations like Volunteers of America Colorado Branch, or Warren Village and other Volunteers of America partners, can help make the seemingly untouchable dreams a reality.
“I don't want to say I don't have any more goals in my life but I already have a career, I have been to college, I am buying a home. At this point I just want to do the best by my kids and raise them the way they deserve to be raised," Whitson said, “I want to show my kids that it is possible and if you keep working hard and doing your best every day that you will succeed."
Whitson would tell you that most of her dreams have come true; they just came in a little bit different order than she expected.