To Stephanie Richards, Buckner Family Pathways in Dallas is a place of healing.
"I consider myself one of God’s servants with a broken wing,” she said. “I’m here to get mended and then go out into the world.”
Stephanie has lived at Family Pathways for about a year with her three young children – ages 13, 7 and 6. When they first came to Family Pathways, they had just moved to Dallas from Memphis, Tenn., were homeless and hopeless.
Stephanie knew the homeless shelter they were living in wasn’t the best environment for her children, but she didn’t know where to go. That’s when someone from the adult resource center at her school, El Centro College, recommended Family Pathways. Within a week, Stephanie interviewed and was accepted into the program.
“When we first came here, my family was in turmoil,” Stephanie said. “But I remember first getting here and going into my apartment, and I started crying. You know why I was crying? Because we had a washer and dryer. That’s just the simplest of things, but this is God.”
In addition to housing, Family Pathways also offered Stephanie child care assistance and counseling to support her and her family while she goes to school. The counseling, Stephanie said, has tremendously helped her whole family.
“I was really depressed, and I needed help,” Stephanie said. “Buckner has really helped me out – mentally, physically, spiritually – they really have. Now it’s like I’m different. And my kids were in turmoil at the time we moved because I had uprooted them and brought them here … [my daughter] was hyper at school and wouldn’t sit still. My son kept getting into trouble but now it’s different. They have stabilized. I can really see a difference and I’m proud of them because they have really overcome.”
Now, Stephanie is working on her bachelor’s degree at Texas Woman’s University and is an active volunteer in her community, volunteering at Dallas Catholic Charities and as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) for foster children.
Though Stephanie was a foster parent for 18 years, she never considered doing CASA until a professor suggested it to her. But it has been a natural fit for her and she enjoys being a mentor to the children in foster care.
The stability Stephanie and her children have found at Family Pathways has been life-changing for them, but more importantly, she hopes her family never loses their stability in Christ.
“I think my faith has really increased,” she said. “Sometimes when you’re at your lowest that’s when you are closest to God because you have to really depend on him and sometimes I want to stay at that point so that I can walk by faith stronger.”