Beatitude House Success Stories
Stories of The Women who Benefited and Regained Independence
Our Mission is Your Success
The Beatitude House provides a caring environment where people find hope and achieve success rebuilding their lives. These are the incredible stories and testimonials of women who benefited and regained independence from the services and support of the Beatitude House.
– written by Nancy Beeghly
It was a proud day in June for Lashonda Benjamin when her son Joseph, 17, received his diploma from the prestigious Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington D.C.. He had worked through a rigorous four years of academic success to come to this moment.
During his elementary and middle school years his mother had cheered him on as he won spelling and geography bees in his schools and competed on a city-wide level as well.
Looking back through the years, Lashonda remains grateful to Beatitude House “that made a real difference in our lives.”
Joseph was five years old when Lashonda knew they needed to flee for their lives after living the nightmare of domestic violence.
“It was a rough time – a horror story,” she recalled.
When a friend told her about the Sojourner House Domestic Violence Shelter in Youngstown, she and Joseph headed north. After a few weeks in the shelter, one of the counselors referred her to Beatitude House.
“We were reset for success when we came to Beatitude House. We were able to dream again. We were able to move upward and forward. Everyone was supportive and helpful. And Joseph was so happy to be there and have a normal life. He had the opportunity to be a little boy and play with other children in that peaceful environment and he had the best Christmas he’d ever had.”
“Beatitude is a very good investment- a good place to donate,” she said. ‘The program really lives its claim to transform lives and make a difference.”
If Beatitude House taught Beth nothing else, it taught her that it’s never too late to make changes to your life. It’s never too late to find success.
Moving to Ashtabula at 18 with her husband, Beth felt she was following her rightful path by starting a family. But, as her relationship became abusive, her family life soured, and her dream of domestic bliss vanished as fear and uncertainty set in.
After feeling trapped for so long and unsure of her future, Beth realized she was unwilling to keep living in fear. She finally summoned the courage to leave her abusive relationship and found shelter at Homesafe Domestic Violence Shelter in Ashtabula. Homesafe protected her while there and referred her to Beatitude House, as it provided a longer, more intensive program. That longer stay and support allowed her to fully stabilize and prevented her from returning to her abuser for lack of resources.
With staff supporting her, Beth scrutinized every aspect of her life and assessed what changes she needed to make to survive on her own with three children. She developed an education plan, knowing how important education was, and eventually graduated with her State Tested Nurses Assistant (STNA) license and a certification in CPR and first aid. She also obtained her driver’s license, something she’d never had before, and finalized her divorce. Additionally, with her newfound confidence, Beth approached her past employer and was able to get back the job she had been fired from the year before. “There was no harm in asking,” she said, and she wrote them a letter explaining all of the changes she’d made to her life that would lead her to be a better employee.
Talking about her stay with Beatitude House, Beth identified the different aspects of the program that helped her but was unable to pinpoint one specific experience that impacted her the most: “Everything…it’s not just one thing. Everything at Beatitude House played an important part,” she said. “Case management kept me focused on my goals. Counseling kept me mentally focused. I felt like I was doing something.”
Perhaps the biggest impact on her children’s lives was the stability and support that came from living at Beatitude House. Her son’s behavior had been exhausting and unmanageable; she was able to get him the medical attention he needed and quoted the encouraging nature of Beatitude House staff and other residents as the driving force behind her succeeding with him. “I had people behind me, supporting me,” she said. She now has full custody of all three of her children, and they live in their own apartment.
A House of Blessing Ashtabula opened in June of 2012, and Beth was its very first resident. Her hard work and sincere motivation allowed her to make progress quickly, and within just nine months, staff felt that she was ready to move on from the program. She was one of the first program graduates from the Ashtabula site, and Beth’s accomplishments continue serving as inspiration for new women looking for a second chance.
Leanette DeJesus has always been a driven person. Originally from New York, she made the bold decision to leave her life there and seek new opportunities when she failed to find a job in her field of paralegal studies. However, moving from place to place with a young daughter and a new baby boy, Leanette encountered drastic uncertainty and many mentally and emotionally abusive environments. It wasn’t long before she realized that she was “trapped in something (she) couldn’t help.”
Wanting stability and a healthy environment for her family, but unsure of where to find it, she turned to her sister for advice. During one of their many phone calls, her sister mentioned a program in Ohio—Beatitude House—that she knew helped women looking for a way out of desperate situations. Leanette had no idea the impact Beatitude House would eventually make on her family’s future, but a conversation with Site Coordinator Sr. Mary Alyce convinced her she was perfect for the program. Rather than mail an application from Florida, she told Sr. Mary Alyce, “I’ll be there Monday,” and packing her belongings into her car with her two small children, Leanette left her old life behind without a second thought.
Beatitude House offered Leanette’s family the security and stability she had been seeking, and allowed her children to feel safe in a home of their own. But Leanette knew she’d have to make some personal changes. “Beatitude House could give you the tools and resources, but they’re not babysitters,” she said. “You have to do the rest.” As shocked as Sr. Mary Alyce was to see Leanette on the doorstep that Monday morning, it was nothing compared to the impression she would make on staff during her stay. She worked hard once accepted, attending meetings regularly, arriving on time to appointments, participating in enrichment activities. As a “resident buddy” to program participants, Leanette tried to instill a sense of hope in them, encouraging each mother to make the best of her time at Beatitude House: “You have to take advantage of the program,” she said.
Her second year at Beatitude House, Leanette went back to school, enrolling at Youngstown State University where she majored in social work. Her determination continued paying off as she received the 2012 Karen R. Murphy Beatitude House Scholarship, the Gale T. Dennison Scholarship, and three separate awards at Beatitude House’s 2012 Cornerstone Dinner.
Before coming to Beatitude House, “I didn’t do me,” Leanette said. “People were always stepping on me.” She graduated from A House of Blessing Youngstown after two years spent working on her own goals and making personal life changes. Leanette, her two children, and their father now live in a 3-bedroom house they call home. While she admitted that they still struggle a bit from time to time, she knows she always has a family at Beatitude House that they can lean on. With a smile, she pronounced, “I’m happy.”
Stories and testimonials sent in by you. Please read the stories below.
When I first came to Beatitude House, I had a one-year-old boy and I was expecting my second son. I was living in a roach-infested apartment, barely able to afford the bills. The landlord had turned off the electricity and had taken my refrigerator from my apartment when I wasn’t home. I had not been talking to my mother at the time. I had been getting beaten by my ex-boyfriend and had no one else to turn to. I moved into Beatitude House. I got started at Youngstown State University, and it gave me a new outlook on life.
“Beatitude House gave me the chance for a new beginning away from all of the hurt and pain and struggling.”
They gave me the chance to be myself, and accept myself and try to better myself for my children and myself.
“Beatitude House program is truly a blessing to me.”
The program offered a safe place for my child and me to live. I didn’t have to settle for living in an unsafe housing complex. I could continue attending college. I was able to address painful situations that had affected my life as a child. Beatitude was a safe haven for my daughter and me. I thank God that He blessed me to meet Sister Margaret and become a part of the Beatitude House program.
Before this program, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. I received everything from food, personal hygiene items, clothing, Christmas gifts for the children and household items. The emotional support was the greatest. They were there. All these women changed my life. Today, I hold a full-time job with a major health insurance company. I completed a full-time comprehensive office training course, in which I maintained an “A” average throughout the program. I have now obtained my property and casualty license in insurance and have also become a notary for the State of Ohio. Not bad for a single mother with cancer, no self-esteem, and limited education.
“Thanks to the Beatitude House Program, I have made it!”