By: Annette Leahy-Maggitti, Homesharing Housing Counselor
Torrie came to the St. Ambrose Homesharing program in 1989 when her daughter was four years old. We were not able to find her a perfect match at the time, but Torrie found a home to rent in northeast Baltimore. A few years later she came back to Homesharing looking for someone to share her home and help her maintain her household. She needed someone available to be home for her daughter after school. Her daughter was then 11 years old.
Mildred, who had hit on hard times, reluctantly came to St. Ambrose. She had a heart attack and had to leave her factory job. Her unemployment benefits were running out and she did not want her 18 and 20 year-old sons to have to take care of her. When I interviewed her, it was clear that she was skeptical that such an arrangement could be successful. “I was a nervous wreck thinking about sharing a home with a stranger, but Torrie’s openness made me relax a bit!”
Both Mildred and Torrie agreed that the ‘match meeting,’ when a homesharing counselor works out an agreement with both parties, was most helpful and created the necessary boundaries to make a successful arrangement. No money was exchanged. It was strictly a barter situation.
Mildred was able to complete a state run program that retrained her for employment and helped her get back on her feet, and she also became a surrogate grandmother to Torrie’s daughter and a close companion. Torrie said, “It was truly life changing for me. Mildred has become my best friend, my confidant. I needed someone I could trust to give me peace of mind when I had to leave my child. Mildred was the ‘gap childcare’ I needed to be able to work full time. I don’t know how a mom works regular hours without help. We respected each other’s time and space. I just love her!”
Now Mildred has her own apartment but Torrie and Mildred continue to share many holidays and birthdays with eachother’s families. “Mildred is my sister from another mother,” said Torrie, hugging her.