Medford, Ore. — NBC5 News is partnering with Access to start a community discussion, and bring you an in-depth look into the lives of people who are homeless, have been homeless, or who are very close to it. In week three, we’re meeting April Penrose.
Penrose first came to the Medford Gospel Mission’s Women’s Shelter when tragedy struck her health, and her home. Now a volunteer, Penrose welcomes women into the program.
“Most of the people who come to us have worked all their lives,” Penrose said.
Having been at the mission since 2015, she’s seen a lot of people check in, and she knows the stigma attached to it.
“They think ‘homeless shelter’ and they go, ‘How can I be in a homeless shelter?'” Penrose said.
It’s a mindset she understands– she, too, checked in once. At the time, it was her very last choice.
“I knew, it was not a good place,” Penrose said. “Well, I was wrong, it’s a wonderful place, but I didn’t know that from the outside.”
After completing two programs, Penrose became the dorm monitor. A fitting role, since she’s spent her life taking care of others.
“I’m a caregiver, I had 30 years experience,” Penrose noted.
But health problems of her own halted her career.
“I’m diabetic, and I had hit a point where my feet just went bad,” Penrose said. “And then my house burnt down… so, I still couldn’t work, I had no insurance at that time.”
After losing everything, Penrose was able to support herself for a short time.
“I had been living on savings, but they were gone,” Penrose said.
Penrose spent a while couch surfing, but she says that came to an end as well.
“After a time, people started going, ‘well, you know, we love you, but, you gotta go,'” Penrose said.
With no where else to go, she turned to the Mission. Nearly a year and a half later, she says it’s been an invaluable lesson that she almost passed up.
“What the Lord has taught me, is that I can sit next to them, and go, ‘man, I, I understand,'” Penrose said.
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