KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Imagine having to spend the holidays in a motel room with no decorations and no space to play with any gifts. In fact, no gifts, no tree.
River Of Refuge, a transitional housing program for homeless families, held its first Christmas party ever Wednesday night-- for families who haven't had a place to call home and celebrate for a very long time.
Patricia Mincks and her kids moved into River Of Refuge in November. Her husband passed away about four years ago. They’ve been homeless for two years.
“We stayed four months at another shelter, and since then we`ve been staying in hotels, which was very crowded. Six people in one hotel room,” Mincks described.
“They`re stuck in this cycle, and sometimes they live years in those motels, because they really cannot save up for that first month`s rent and deposit,” said Stephanie Keck, the Executive Director of River of Refuge.
They enjoyed the Christmas party at their new home after years of having no personal space, or a place to call their own.
“It`s very challenging. There have been many nights where I felt like a failure as a parent,” added Mincks, “There`s been a lot of times I`ve worried about my kids, worried if this was ever going to come to an end, if I`ll ever be stable again.”
River Of Refuge opened in May, and tonight held its first ever Christmas party, the Mincks family's first time celebrating since leaving the motel.
“I was not allowed to decorate for Christmas,” Mincks added. “The gifts that they did receive, we didn`t have any personal space where they could go and enjoy their gifts. That was very difficult, to see these toys, see these kids wanting to enjoy their toys, and having to tell them, okay maybe you can play for five minutes, but there`s just really not a lot of room.”
Now they have more room, and instead of living off of microwave dinners, she can cook nutritious meals, and decorate for Christmas.
“When my kids unwrap their gifts, they`re going to be able to take them in their bedroom and enjoy them, and look at them, and play with them, and spend Christmas morning the way it was meant to be spent,” said Mincks, “I finally feel like I`m on the right track, I feel like my kids have a future.”
Mincks says she`s learned it's okay to ask for help, and here she doesn`t have to suffer on her own. She says she couldn`t ask for a better Christmas for her family.
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Patricia Mincks moved into the transitional housing program last November, and in May she will graduate from the program. Mincks is on her way to permanent housing.
Her daughter also graduated high school Monday, May 15.