Coming from a world of instability and inconsistency, Buckner Family Hope Center and New Hope Housing birthed a new life path for Krystal Conton and her family. She always imagined what a “grown-up life” would feel like – and now she says, “we’re living it and Buckner helped us find it.”
Life before Buckner felt like a “roller coaster.” She came to the Houston area only four years ago, from Virginia, where she and her husband, Michael, were couch surfing and felt the walls closing in.
Newfound stability brings joy for the Conton family
Now employed with Buckner and another baby on the way, she can’t help but smile at the growth her family has made with the support of this community.
In 2016, Krystal boarded a plane with nothing but a suitcase to come to the Houston area to stay with her sister.
“I was about seven months pregnant with Zander, and there was nothing left for us in Virginia. We felt like we had to do something different,” she shared.
By spring, Krystal had moved into a local shelter and qualified for their rapid rehousing program. The apartment they moved into was in a rough area of town, but it was theirs to call home. But the next challenge they faced was taking over the rent and Krystal was pregnant, this time with Aurora. Michael didn’t have the ability to obtain employment due to legal issues back in Virginia, so he chose to go back to Virginia for four months to take care of those.
The next door of opportunity opened for Krystal in September 2018. She qualified for New Hope Housing, across the street from the Family Hope Center.
New Hope Housing created a community for Krystal she had never known before. She had the opportunity to get out of the apartment, try new things and socialize with others she knew were safe.
“We were at this point where we needed resources that other places, including New Hope, were not prepared to offer yet. Buckner stepped in to help right from the beginning,” Krystal explained.
“Dior [Family Hope Center director] got me bows for my baby’s hair, little housewarming gifts to hang up,” she shared. “The moral support and empathy I felt was amazing. I don’t struggle with anxiety near as much as I did in the beginning of this – moving here without my husband, being pregnant, I experienced a lot of anxiety and having someone there to help me through that was really amazing.”
The transformation Krystal and her entire family experienced is one many Buckner staff brag about.
“Her family as a whole has progressed in such an amazing way,” shared Tennie Thompson, Buckner family coach. “She’s a glow of light, and working with her, she didn’t run from challenges. That makes my job easier!”
Counseling, programs strengthened and transformed Krystal
By plugging in so diligently to the programs, Krystal and her family have transformed through the help of Jobs for Life, Nurturing Parent classes, kids’ classes, coaching and more. One of the biggest things Buckner did for Krystal was change her entire career path. A trained vet tech for more than 15 years, she now is the children’s program aide at the Family Hope Center.
“Working with these kids is something I can stick with. It completely changed my life direction,” Krystal said.
She loves to be creative with the kids and give them a teacher to count on. When COVID-19 hit, Krystal jumped into action creating t-shirts for staff and masks for her students with empowering phrases imprinted on them.
“Buckner gave the opportunity to do those things – that’s what happens. They give you the opportunity and trust you, giving you the opportunity to be as creative as you want,” she said.
While the kids run around and play in the background, Krystal smiles with joy that she gets to keep learning and growing in this “grown-up life.”