red toothbrush in frosted cup attached to lime green tile wall with white groutHeather Free knows what it’s like to be homeless. Employed full-time in the Human Services industry, Heather worked closely with those needing supportive services. A college graduate with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts, she is an accomplished violinist, mother of two, and blogger. However, a series of events — car accident, adverse medication reaction, a fiance’s cold feet, loss of insurance and then her job — put Heather on the other side of the Human Services table.

As a homeless single mom, she did what was best and sent her daughter to live with her father. She struggled to get well, both mentally and physically, while living nearly a year out of her handbag, sleeping on friends’ sofas or living room floors; one time, she slept under a bush behind a convenience store. “I couldn’t get the help I needed and I knew how the system works,” she said. “Homelessness is a full-time job. There are no hobbies when you’re homeless: there’s no thriving, just surviving.” She posted her plight online and so began a social media chain reaction that put Heather in touch with Property Manager, Tasyka DeRosalia. With a stroke of luck, Heather was housed within a week. 

While homeless, Heather traveled with her toothbrush in a Ziploc baggie, stashed consistently in her purse. No matter where she slept, she kept a simple routine: wake up, brush teeth, start day, hold onto hope, navigate homelessness. Two weeks after moving  into her apartment, she searched her handbag for the Ziploc’d toothbrush. Nothing. Frantically, she emptied the bag and then retraced her steps.

She found it…right where it’s supposed to be…in her bathroom toothbrush stand. She knew then she was home. The gift of Home offers peace of mind, reliability, safety, and security. A toothbrush in its place is why Home Matters.

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