ABERDEEN, Md. — "This is an apartment that a family would be given," said Laura Milcarzyk as she gave a tour of one of the apartments given to homeless families in Harford County through the Harford Family House.
The Harford Family House takes in homeless families and helps get them back on their feet by helping them find a job, learn how to take care of themselves and realize their worth.
10 years ago, Milcarzyk was homeless.
"Part of being homeless is the inside stuff. Feeling worthless. Feeling like we shouldn’t be here on this earth and we have nothing to offer society. We’re just a drain. This place tells us we’re not like that," said Milcarzyk.
She had to live at the Harford Family House after she left her husband.
"First time he got aggressive, violent with me, was not even a month into our marriage." A marriage that lasted 13 years. "He had alcohol and drug problems," said Milcarzyk. She added, "over the years it kept getting worse and worse and worse. I loved him a lot." She explained how she tried to leave her husband five to times but finally did exactly 10 years ago, when her son was 4.
"The reason I succeeded the last time is I had a place to go," said Micarzyk. She had the Harford Family House, which has been open for 30 years. They have a facility with 25 apartments and 12 units outside the apartment complex.
"You don't realize the need," said Heather Lynch, the Resource Development Manager for the Harford Family House.
In January they did a homeless count and counted 228 people, 35 percent of them were children.
"That doesn't count the people sleeping in their cars or the people hidden or the people couch surfing," said Lynch.
That's a 19 percent increase since last year. However, the good thing is they had an 88 percent success rate last year.
"88 percent of the families graduated from the program and moved on to permanent housing," said Lynch.
The Harford Family House helps parents get a job, work on a resume, get to work, gives supplies, and, more importantly, they help these parents experience personal growth. They give these families something of their own. When they move into their new apartment, they get a fully furnished apartment.
"It's decorated down to the toothbrush," said Lynch. She expressed that way they feel at home and can take the supplies with them when they leave, something Milcarzyk was especially grateful for.
"It was a home, and it was mine, and he wasn’t there, and I didn’t have to be afraid," said Milcarzyk.
She expressed how the greatest feeling was to be able to go to the grocery store, buy the foods she wanted and didn't have to worry about anything. Now, she is a college graduate, works at the Bel Air Library and helps at the Harford Family House when she can.
"There are still families out there who need a place, a foundation to stand on," said Milcrzyk. "That’s what this place does."
The Harford Family House is hosting their 3rd Annual Ahoy! Cocktails by the Bay to help raise money to help more families. Lynch said right now they have a waiting list but want to help as many people as they can so they need money to expand. The event is Thursday, May 30 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at La Banque De Fleuve in Havre De Grace.
For more information on this event, click here. They also have two other events for the year, one in July and another in September.