New Lease On Life, Even With ‘Old’ Stuff
Sharon Thompkins still has some unpacking to do. But the bathroom in her new apartment is fully decorated in pink and her living room is meticulously arranged with a camel-colored sofa set, accent lamps and a curved glass coffee table—all in her beloved art deco style.
“That’s my motif,” she said, admiring the furniture that was held in storage for 18 months after she was laid off from her longtime job at the Newark Housing Authority. Thompkins lost her apartment and bounced around several temporary living situations, including spending some nights in her white, two-door Mercury Cougar which was filled with papers, clothing and food. Last year her car was totaled in an accident.
For Thompkins, 53, her nearly brand-new bedroom set and color-coordinated bathroom represent more than just a fully furnished apartment—they symbolize how far she’s come since becoming homeless in 2012.
“It’s like I’ve been reunited with my life,” said Thompkins, who got the keys to her new home March 10. “A lot of people lose their stuff.”
She credits the New Community Family Resource Success Center on Bergen Street with connecting her to social services including Project Life, a non-profit that helps Essex County residents struggling with mental health issues. Thompkins, who says she struggles with depression and anxiety, received a housing voucher from Project Life.
Born in Newark, Thompkins says she had a close relationship with her father after her mother died when she was just 8. She struggled to cope with his death in 2009 and when she lost her job in 2011, her life seemed to unravel.
“Once I got laid off, I was traumatized,” Thompkins said, adding that Family Resource Success Center Director Joann Williams-Swiney and her staff offered Thompkins “endless support.”
“New Community has really been a force in my life,” she added. “They have so much valuable information.”