Sophia Irizarry is thankful to have a home this Thanksgiving season.
Last year — around this time — Irizarry and her family called a mint green 2004 Ford Escape home.
The house they lived in had black mold and the city inspector told them they had to move because it wasn’t safe for children to live there.
Izarry has two children, 2-year-old Alex and 7-year-old Isabella.
Her boyfriend, Adam, and her mother live with her too.
“It was actually affecting my 2-year-old son’s health very negatively,” Irizarry said at her job inside the AFL-CIO Community Services thrift store.
The family car also broke down last year and someone stole everything out of it. With nowhere to turn, Irizarry turned to the place she worked for assistance.
“They helped me through their Housing Stability Program. They paid a new deposit for me to move,” Irizarry said.
AFL-CIO also replaced much of the stuff she had stolen from her car. It’s through the kindness of donors that AFL-CIO helps people like Irizarry in need. To them, Irizarry said she is grateful.
“I’m just thankful that there’s still people in our community that care about the people that need help and understand that people can’t always do everything themselves,” Irizarry said.
She added that since she knows how it is to be homeless we all should be thankful, whether we live in a shack or a mansion.
“There’s some people out there that don’t even have a house, they don’t have anywhere to go at night,” Irizarry said.
There were 225 people in St. Joseph in 2018 without permanent housing. Nationwide there is an estimated 553,742 people experiencing homelessness on a given night, according to the most recent national point-in-time count.
Irizarry added that to have a community so caring as ours shows we aren’t so far gone as a society. There’s plenty of people here that realize there are others who need help, she said.
“We’re still there for each other, whether we’re related by blood or not,” Irizarry said.