Maylin came to the United States from Nicaragua with her family and at age 16 started paying her own rent. Working as a chef, she was able to provide for her three children. Her life changed with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. “When you go from being so healthy and working all your life to a doctor telling you ‘You can’t work right now,’ it can be very depressing,” Maylin said.
Without a reliable income, Maylin, 48, and her youngest child 12-year-old, Matthew (her other two children are now 21 and 31 and living on their own) stayed with friends and family until they moved to a children’s shelter in Boston. The shelter kept a roof over their heads but didn’t provide stability or personal space. With strict rules about when residents needed to come in each day and no allowance for visitors, it was a lonely experience, especially for Matthew. “He stopped doing art. He stopped doing the things he loved because he was so depressed,” Maylin said. Further, the rigidity of the shelter also made it difficult for Maylin to commit to work, even as her health improved, and she became physically able to work again.
For nearly three years, Maylin worked to obtain a Section 8 Housing voucher but was placed on waiting list after waiting list. She found St. Francis House in December of 2021, as she experienced another family tragedy. Her fiancé passed away in late 2021, soon after recommending she visit St. Francis House. During this painful time, Maylin met Housing Navigator, Savannah Wilkinson. Savannah was “always welcoming and great motivator,” Maylin said. “She was there for me. Sometimes after finishing her work, she would just listen.”
On a Valentine’s Day, 2022 Savannah called Maylin with important news. She qualified for an emergency Section 8 voucher! The news brought profound change. In September 2022, Maylin moved into an apartment in Hyde Park where she and Matthew will finally have their own rooms and space to gather with family and friends.
Before they moved in, Matthew channeled his excitement into planning his bedroom. He used a virtual tour of the apartment to decide where he would put his furniture and what space he would use for his art. “Now he is the happy little boy that he was, so how am I not going to be happy?” Maylin said.
This stability of housing helped more important pieces fall in place. Maylin received three job offers from restaurants near her apartment and is finally able to pursue her GED. “I know the hours that I will go to school, the hours that I can go to work. You see how my life changed?” she said. Ultimately, Maylin wants to help people experiencing homelessness as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, inspired by her late fiancé who was a counselor himself.
After years of feeling unsure and unstable, Maylin is on solid ground again. “I was at a point where I was very depressed, and my mind was all over the place. Now I’m not. My son was too. Now he’s not… My tears are happy tears of excitement. Who did this? St. Francis House did!”