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Carlisle woman goes from homeless to helpful - abc27 WHTM

Carlisle woman goes from homeless to helpful

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When it was the James Wilson hotel, the four story building just off the square in downtown Carlisle was a place where people wanted to stay. But, for the last twenty six years, it's been a place where some people needed to stay. The building is part of the Safe Harbour homeless shelter network in Cumberland County. And, until six weeks ago, it's where Helen Macdonald lived.

"I was very down," said Macdonald, looking back on that time. " I was very depressed. I just never thought I could be in that position."

Just a year ago, the college educated, single mom was living in her car, after losing her job and home when her Camp Hill employer suddenly left town

"I just felt so hopeless," she said. " Like I had no future. I had no purpose."

But with counseling and encouragement from Safe Harbour staff and fellow residents, all that changed.

"One thing this whole experience has given me," she said, " is kind of a heart for other people."

Macdonald has her own apartment now, and volunteers time to the New Life Community Church out of Mt. Holly Springs. She often helps with the church's Sunday morning service and breakfast held in the Carlisle Theater building. And she does all this while raising funds for an upcoming mission trip to Haiti to help with earthquake relief efforts.

with funding from individuals, businesses, churches and government grants, Safe Harbour provides shelter and services at several locations in cumberland county, for a growing and varied list of clients. In a typical year, Safe Harbour provides 38-thousand nights of shelter for those in need.

Community Relations and Development Director for Safe Harbour, Scott Shewell said the stereotypical image of a homeless person doesn't fit anymore. "We have everything from newborn to elderly veterans, families and single women," he said.

Those in charge of helping the homeless get their lives turned around say it's not about looking back, but, instead, looking ahead.

"I am very excited about the future," said Macdonald. "I actually feel like I have a future."

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