Finding a Safe Haven

Sheila Chapple’s lovely smile and dignified manner grab your attention immediately. An Army Veteran, she joined the Army National Guard in her junior year of high, school and enlisted after graduation.  After leaving active duty, she joined the Army reserve where she continued serving our country until 2013.  A native of Cotton Plant Arkansas, she has two daughters and two granddaughters.

In 2016, when one of her daughters needed a place to live, Shelia opened her home. Unfortunately, problems arose, and Shelia felt it was better for them not to live together. “I moved out instead of putting my daughter out because I wanted my granddaughter to have a place to live. I paid the rent, and I lived in my car. “

No one knew Shelia was homeless. “I had a job at Enterprise. I would park my car at truck stops to sleep. They had showers so I could clean-up, and it was safer.”

Shelia wanted to go back to school, so eventually, she moved to California. “I transferred my job there, but it didn’t pay enough to live. I found full-time jobs through a temp agency, but I couldn’t make enough to pay rent and go to school. My daughter was still struggling, so in June, I came back to Little Rock to help with my 5-year-old granddaughter.”

While in California, Shelia had transferred her VA medical benefits, and it was then she learned about the programs for Veterans experiencing homelessness. When she got back to Little Rock, she went to the Veterans Day Treatment Center for assistance. “That’s when I was referred here. I’m close to my family, and I can also save money and find my own place. I have osteoarthritis so I can also get my medical problems treated so I can eventually be ready to go back to work.”

Through the Arkansas Rehabilitation Center, Sheila has gotten a small grant that will allow her to go back to school as well. “I’m hoping that by January I can be working part-time and going to school part-time. I have an Associate degree; I’d like to complete my Bachelor’s degree. I’ve been very pleased with the help I’ve received at St. Francis House. It’s a good fit for a female, homeless Vet. The staff are friendly and nice and bend over backward to help. I had some concerns at first- being female, but I like the mix of people here, both among the Veterans and the staff. I don’t even regret being in the military and serving my country, and right now, this is a haven. If I weren’t a Veteran, I  might still be on the street.”