Jan 9, 2011 7:35 PM by Matt Stafford

Many homeless parents struggling

Teresa McLaughlin, a program director for Homeward Pikes Peak -- a Colorado Springs homeless-help program -- says they're seeing a lot of homeless parents needing help right now.

"She just got shots yesterday," explains Brandy Thomas, talking about her four-month-old daughter, Lilliana, who was starting to get fussy during their interview.

Getting Lilliana's shots is just one of the many things that her mother needed to do to take care of her, but for Thomas it's harder than most because she's homeless. She sees plenty of parents in the same spot.

"I see it more than I sure would like to," Thomas says.

"The single families out there are really having a hard time," McLaughlin explains. In her work at the Aztec Motel -- working to transition homeless off the streets -- says the rooms stay full and there are many parents; and even more around Colorado Springs.

"There's probably a good 150 to 200 single parents that I know of," McLaughlin says.

As hard as it can be to find a job and be able to pay for a place to live, doing that with a child adds a lot of work to the process. However, McLaughlin says for some, the children and families are what get them finally moving in the right direction.

Thomas sees that drive in her.

"Right now she's (Lilliana) little, but I don't want her living in a motel forever," Thomas says.

Before, it was partially drugs that put her on the streets -- being homeless off and on for six or seven years -- now it's Lilliana that's forcing her to pick her self up.

"That's what keeps me clean and sober and on the right path, because I know what I want and what I want for her (Lilliana)," Thomas explains.

It's also proving to herself that she's a fighter. She knows, from previous experience, that the only way she'll get off the street is by wanting to help herself. She wants to show everyone that she can.

"Show people that I'm more than just homeless," says Thomas.

She is more than homeless; she's a mom, and trying to do the best she can.

Thomas is working part time right now and hopes to be moving out of the Aztec Motel and into her own place soon.

Thomas and others say homeless parents need leads for jobs and help with child care so they can get out and work.

McLaughlin adds that seasonal employment over the holidays is running out and won't pick up for a little while. If you would like to help, click on this link for contact information for Homeward Pikes Peak.


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