My name is Diane, and I am 57 years old. I was born and raised in Chippewa Falls. I am currently working towards earning my GED high school diploma and have one final math test to take before I complete it.
My dad died when I was 10 years old. My mom raised seven kids on her own. We had a tough childhood growing up. I got married young and had three kids. I’ve beat stage three breast cancer two times and stage three blood cancer. My cancer treatments took place over six years. I have other family members who have had cancer and passed away.
When my mom got sick, I worked a full-time job and moved in with her to help her out and support the both of us. She was illiterate and wanted me to go to school to learn and be the best that I could be. Though, it was hard to go to school while working to make a living, in addition to taking care of my mom. It’s been almost one year since her passing. When my mom died in February 2022, a few weeks later, my sister passed away. I was doing two funerals for two loved ones in a short time span. It was a very difficult time.
There were difficulties with my mom’s will, and the inheritance she left her children, including her house, made it hard to fight for. I was living with her when she was still alive, but when she passed, I had nowhere else to go since her house was put up for sale. I ended up being homeless.
I lived in my car for about seven weeks. I had two fractured heels and was in walking boots. One day, I met Jen at the CDC Outreach Center and told her about my situation. Her and her staff put me up in a motel for a few days until there was a tiny house opening at Hope Village.
I came to Hope Village in October 2022. I'm so happy that I have this tiny home and Hope Village to support me and help me get my life back on track. I was looking for a miracle, and here it was.
I stay in contact with my mentors and every week, I have a meeting with my mentor. It’s the encouragement from the staff that keeps me going. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t do this anymore, but they help me set and meet my goals every week, like going back to school to earn my high school diploma. They give me more confidence to do better and to want more in life. With the right support system and encouragement, I am so close to earning something I have long dreamed of. It’s something I am doing for me and my mom.
Living in a tiny house has made me come to appreciate the small things in life. Before Hope Village relocated its tiny houses to the new location on Kennedy Road in Chippewa Falls, the tiny house I stayed in was at a local church, where it was good but had some limitations to plumbing. This new location has a community center, where residents can shower, do laundry, talk with other people in the lounge area and make meals and wash dishes in the kitchen. I have privacy in the showers, which is something I really appreciate.
Living at Hope Village makes me realize I want more in life. I want to get my own place, maybe an apartment, have a job and a car. I lived in my car, and it's no picnic. I’m at a place in my life where I have all the help that I need in the moment. It also makes me realize how much I want for myself in life, too. At the end of the day, I have the staff’s support to help me get me where I need to be.
There is so much good happening at Hope Village. I am so grateful for the staff, volunteers and community members who have supported the organization and positively impacted the lives of many people who needed help. Without them, so many people would probably still be living in their cars, on the streets or even worse. It means a lot to me that people in this community are so helpful, caring and giving.
-Diane, Chippewa Falls