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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines family celebrates one year out of homeless shelter, thankful they're safe during pandemic

Shannon Summers thanks God every day she and her family have their own home, especially during COVID-19.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Today, Shannon Summers can't wipe the smile off her face.

In fact, she's beaming.

"I'm excited! We haven't been in a house of our own for a year," said Summer. "It's pretty cool. I'm excited about it."

This October, Summer is celebrating one year out of the cycle of homelessness, having moved into a home with the assistance of Hawthorn Hill New Directions Shelter.

Now, especially during the pandemic, she's thankful she, her partner Shawn, and her son Leland, have a place to call their own.

"I'm glad we are not in [a shelter] right now because I don't know how we would be able to deal with that with this pandemic and everything going on," said Summers.

Her former shelter, Hawthorn Hill, has had to make a lot of substantial changes to adhere to CDC guidelines to keep clients safe during the pandemic.

Shawn, Shannon and Leland (9 years old) entered New Directions Shelter on October 22, 2019, just 28 days after moving to Des Moines. Prior to moving to Des Moines, the family had not had safe, stable housing for over 10 years. They had most recently been living

"If families are here, they are in their rooms or leaving to go have meals or use the restroom," said case manager Kelsie Pinegar. 

Each resident is required to require masks and not leave their room at all if they feel sick.

Pinegar said at the beginning of the pandemic especially, it took a tool on everyone.

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"I have to be cautious of [our clients'] mental health, our staff's mental health," said Pinegar. "And what does that look like if our families are in their rooms all the time?"

Pinegar says staff has gotten creative. They've learned to accommodate online learning for children in the shelter, and they're doing socially-distant activities now.

Hawthorn Hill's mission is to establish and operate housing programs for homeless families with children that help them obtain permanent housing and to provide services to help families achieve economic self-sufficiency. That vision requires support and commitment from generous donors like you.

"Last week, we had families play bingo, and this week we are going to do some decorating pumpkins," said Pinegar.

Summers said she's endlessly grateful for her family's independence.

"It makes me feel like I'm doing my job as a parent as best I can," said Summers. "We have a roof over our head, we have food in our stomach, clothes on our backs, and we have God to thank for all of it."

Hawthorn Hill continues to help families like Shannon's. Here is their Amazon Wishlist this year. Pinegar also says aside from those specific items, they're in most need of finanical contributions, which you can do here.

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