The Home Depot – Durham woman leaves homelessness behind for good
DURHAM, N.C. — Homelessness may not be at the top of this year’s list of crises, but that hasn’t stopped the problem from getting worse.
On a single night last year, roughly 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness nationwide.
The numbers come from the federal government’s recent report with data collected from January of 2020, not reflecting the consequences of the pandemic.
Although tackling this issue doesn’t come with a simple solution, a Durham woman is hoping her story will bring some people hope.
“Everybody has a story. You just got to take the time to figure out, ask questions. All you need is a hello and how are you, and that can make anyone’s day,” Alison Hardee said.
Hardee grew up in Hillsboro, North Carolina, and graduated from Cedar Ridge High School in 2007.
“I know where most of them are at now and seeing how long it took me to where I’m at, it’s kind of sad,” Hardee said. “You know when you get to that stage where everyone’s married and they’re all starting to have kids and that just wasn’t in our mindset at the time.”
However, her life didn’t go as planned.
Hardee said a couple of bad decisions and bad luck was all it took for her and her fiancé to end up behind a Durham Home Depot.
“They’ll scream, ‘Get a job,’ and things like that, and it’s not that easy,” Hardee said.
To make ends meet, Hardee pan handled for cash.
The two lived off of $50 a day, if they were lucky.
“A lot of the times when we were out here we had bad days and all it took was somebody waving and saying, ‘I hope you have a better day, I hope you have a good day,’ and just a smile meant the world to people out here, so a little bit goes a long way when you’ve lost everything,” she said.
Hardee says stepping into the “StepUp Durham” building was a turning point.
The group helps people transform their lives through employment and life skills training.
From perfecting that elevator pitch to dressing Hardee for success, she landed a job as a temp for Duke University.
Now, she’s applying to work there full time.
“I’m excited to be honest, it’s like opening up a next chapter of our lives,” Hardee said.
She’s also moving into a two bedroom apartment, a moment she says is bittersweet.
As for what the future holds, she can’t wait to find out.
“Being able to have our own place, money in savings to be honest and to get an apartment big enough for me, my fiancé, and his son, I would have never thought that would have happened. It’s a dream come true to be honest,” Hardee said.
“StepUp Durham” held a virtual event on Tuesday raising money for its 3-part program “Work, Grow, Thrive.”
Aside from free employment training, the group offers personalized job coaching and employment referrals.