It has been ten years since the Benn family first came thru the doors of SAMMinistries’ Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC) and a lot has changed! Today Diane and her kids, Samantha, Jacob and Drew want to be an encouragement to people who are in the same shoes they walked in a decade ago.
Diane is now looking forward to teaching GED classes and they all want to share their stories with our residents. However, this isn’t the first time the Benn’s have given back to SAMMinistries. Jacob, an accomplished cross country runner, organized two Aztec Trek 5K Runs to benefit SAMMinistries while he was still in high school.
When Diane came back to TLLC, Samantha, a recent
honors graduate from Texas State University, was working and disappointed that she could not make the visit. However, Jacob and Drew were able to come along with Diane, eager to see their “old home”.
Samantha was in middle school, Jacob was in 4th grade and Drew hadn’t quite arrived when Diane found herself without a place to live. At 8.5 months pregnant, this mother of two came home one day to find her money gone, along with everything else in the apartment she had been sharing with “friends”.
At the time, she was working as a substitute teacher and attending San Antonio College (SAC) mortuary science
program. Now, with no money and no roommates, she could not afford a place for herself and children. The family found temporary shelter with her cousin and a friend, but she wanted to stand on her own two feet and not be a burden to others.
As a working mom, SAMMinistries’ Transitional Program was the perfect fit for her and her children. Two weeks after moving into TLLC, Diane gave birth to Drew. However, this did not deter her from accomplishing her goals. She graduated from the mortuary science program in May and immediately began working full-time at a local funeral home.
With her success in our program, the Benn family moved up to one of our transitional homes. It was then that she realized she missed teaching—it was her passion. So, she started going to UTSA full-time to earn her degree to become a bilingual teacher. Working full-time, going to school full-time and raising three kids wasn’t easy.
“There were times I wanted to give up, but then I would look at my children and had faith God would provide for us. I want to thank you all for giving so we could live at TLLC. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for you. ”
The next two years brought lots of changes: a bachelor’s degree, a graduation from our Transitional Program, and a new career working as a teacher for the San Antonio Independent School District. Not one to rest on her laurels, Diane kept working toward her biggest goal—home ownership. Her face lit up when she proudly announced that, in 2008, she became the proud owner of her own home!
A firm believer in setting goals, Diane has high expectations for her children, but does not have to worry about them—they are goal setters, too! Samantha is beginning her master’s degree program in social work in the fall with hopes of helping people through their difficult times. Jacob is attending Oklahoma State University on a cross country scholarship, where he will be a part of the National Championship Team. His goal is to be on the 2016 Olympic Cross Country Team—be watching for him! The youngest child, Drew, wants to be a professional football player, but he is just 10 years old!
Looking at her now, you would have never known that she had once been a homeless mom. But then she says there will be a lot of people who will be surprised to read she was homeless, including some family members.
“When I was living here [TLLC] no one knew I was homeless. I as always happy . . . no one could tell. Some people think that a homeless person is a person on the street begging, but that didn’t define me. It just shows that you can’t really put a face on homelessness.”
Diane’s not done yet! Currently she is working on her next goal—a master’s degree in Educational Leadership! Now she has her sights set on becoming a professor in bilingual adult education. We have no doubt that there is nothing she can’t do!