Homeless to Hopeful – Annalee’s Journey

Annalee speaks at the Official Opening of the YWCA Elm Centre


From homeless to hopeful: Annalee’s  journey

What is Homeless?

The dictionary says it means “without a home.” To me, it means to be in limbo; a constant state of lost, unwanted, forgotten and absolute uncertainty. It means not knowing where you’ll be sleeping or where your next meal will come from. It means not knowing if you’ll have to fight for a bed, a spot, a box, or a sandwich. It means not knowing if you’ll be safe or whether you’ll survive.

Most of my life I was bounced around from foster home to foster home. Each time, I felt homeless, in limbo and a constant state of uncertainty, until the streets welcomed me. It wasn’t about being too lazy, looking for a free hand out, or that I didn’t want something I could call my own. It was the availability, affordability, would I pass the credit check, were my clothes presentable and was I presentable.

I was terrified to talk to people due to the judgment they already made about me as they walked by. Most importantly I was terrified to live on my own. The streets were no kinder than the many foster parents, yet they shared a familiar curiosity: they were inviting and I could hide and seclude myself from the world. Once again, I was invisible.

What is Hopeless?

The dictionary says it means, “Without hope, despairing, impossible to accomplish, solve or resolve.” To me it’s a feeling that things will never get better. It’s fearing you didn’t deserve to get better, be better; and knowing it wouldn’t when people walked by you with disgust all over their faces and you slowly slip away into the cracks of the sidewalk. It means help is close by but you possess no resources or social skills to reach out for it. It’s watching your dreams die and never feeling understood or safe. It means not knowing if you’ll be able to survive one more day.


What is Hope?

The dictionary says it means, “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” To me it means, the YWCA. It surrounds you with positive
people and supports. It’s about building a community of resources where you’re being understood, helped and finally heard. It’s the stepping stones they provide that become your lifeline to building a bridge and stepping into the future with confidence. It knows that finally living is possible and so is achieving your dreams.

“Hope” is what the YWCA has provided so many women including myself. For once in my life I feel hopeful and alive. I see the future as very hopeful. I have dreams and goals again and I’m confident that I will see them through. I’m trying new things that help me develop social skills and make me feel better about myself. My apartment isn’t just affordable – it’s beautiful! It’s also within a community of resources and acceptance where I feel welcomed, heard, understood and safe.

Thank you for providing me with these stepping stones. I plan on using them to heal and better myself so that in turn I can leave them for others.

Annalee Hopkins is a fierce survivor. Before she was 18 years old, she lived in 38 places and had only obtained a grade 5 education. After years on the street, she came to the realization that “life had to be better than this.” Her epiphany led her to the YWCA Elm Centre. She is now a passionate advocate, loving mother, grandmother, avid reader and aspiring writer.

One Comment

  1. Sarah Blackstock
    6 years ago

    Annalee’s strength and determination is astonishing – and inspiring!