For so long, there was a place for MiMi Ramos to sleep. She always had a comfortable bed with pillows and blankets -- she never had to ask for simple things like that. She grew up in a small, loving home with everything she needed. Dinner was on the table; the lights worked. She graduated from a Montgomery County, Maryland, high school with a 3.9 grade-point average, signed up for college classes, got a job, and rented an apartment.
By the time the unthinkable happened, MiMi was a single mother with two little boys of her own. The home-improvement company where she worked was sold and the new owner wanted to make changes. Without warning, she was out of work. Child-support checks weren't showing up. A few months later, she was evicted. I've failed my children, she remembers thinking.
The face of homelessness, in MiMi's eyes, was the man with the big jacket pushing a cart, not the 26-year-old mom who had her own car and her own place. She'd never known anybody who lived in a shelter. How does this happen to someone like me?
MiMi spent three months living at The National Center for Children and Families' Greentree Shelter, a transitional home for families who need help rebuilding their lives. She and the boys played card games together and worked on art projects. She tried to make Room 206 feel like home to them. If she was out looking for a job during dinner, she'd call and ask someone in the cafeteria to save a few plates. The shelter was a beacon of light for her. Her children were safe and well-fed, so she could focus on moving forward.
Now a mother of three, MiMi is working for the government and taking classes toward an accounting degree. She recently purchased her first home.