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Mother’s Stress Buster

Carena’s life was already stressful enough as a single mother of two young kids.

Her 3-year-old son has autism, which made parenting even more challenging. And having a 2-year-old girl as well didn’t make it any easier. Then she learned that their musty, moldy old apartment was contaminated with lead, and that her son had a potentially serious case of lead poisoning.

Carena immediately picked up her kids and packed up her stuff. She couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Unfortunately, she had no place to go. And a limited income left her with few options.

So Carena came to MorningStar Mission for help.

Carena knew she’d find help here because of some family history — her mother had stayed with us when young Carena was placed in foster care. “My parents were going through a divorce at the time,” Carena says. “My dad had done something, and DCFS (child and family services) didn’t think my mom was keeping us safe.”

Knowing that her mom got help at MorningStar made it easier for Carena to know where to turn. At MorningStar, Carena and her kids are living in the Women & Family Center, which provides shelter, food, clothing, case management, classes and support groups, while fostering a safe, productive environment. They also have provided diapers and wipes for her children — a huge relief for Carena’s tight budget.

Carena’s case manager is also helping her find financial assistance, including the possibility of disability income for her autistic son. Before MorningStar, Carena’s son often repeatedly banged his head against the wall or the floor — not uncommon for autistic kids. But in their time at the Mission, he has not banged his head even once.

Carena chalks up her son’s noticeable change to the peaceful environment here … and her own peace of mind. “Before we were here, I was under a lot of stress, and I think my son could sense that,” she says. “But now that he sees I’m not under as much stress, he’s also not stressed. That makes me really happy.” MorningStar has also helped to get her son placed in a specialized day care facility.

Carena is preparing for next steps, which include returning to aesthetician school to get her degree. Once she has steady work again, she’ll start looking for her own place.

In the meantime, she’s grateful for the help she’s found at the Mission … and for supporters like you who make it possible. “I don’t know what would have happened without MorningStar,” Carena says. “I’m just thankful I had this place to go to.”

Thank you for your love and compassion for young single moms like Carena!