VIDEO COURTESY OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF OREGON AND THE KENTON WOMEN'S VILLAGE
Jewell Ramirez spent almost eight years on the streets after leaving her husband after a domestic violence incident. She'd been in Portland for years, building her life, before experiencing homelessness, graduating from Portland State University and sending her children to public schools in Northeast Portland.
And those years outside, Jewell says. camping in places like Waterfront Park and sleeping on sidewalks, took their toll on the person she'd been.
"Living on the street makes a person selfish," she said. "But I am trying to be a better person."
Jewell found shelter last year at the Kenton Women's Village, a 14-women alternative shelter that's funded by the Joint Office of Homeless Services and the City of Portland, but guided by Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities also works to provide case management and housing navigation services.
Then, last December, after working with Catholic Charities and finding community at the Village, Jewell moved into an apartment of her own.
"Well, I feel special," Jewell says. "If I hadn't gotten involved with Catholic Charities, I'd still be out there on the streets, trying to eke out some kind of living."