Homeless sisters find temporary housing with SCLC member, job lead
Ken Watts | 9/27/2013, 6:01 a.m.
The homeless Fitchett sisters are no longer living outside the old Candler-McAfee library building in Decatur.
Cylinthia Fitchett, 51, and Camille Fitchett, 43, whose story of homelessness was told on the front page of CrossRoadsNews’ Sept. 21 issue, now have temporary housing in Alpharetta and the promise of jobs helping other homeless women.
After reading about their plight, the DeKalb SCLC’s Nathan Knight arranged for an SCLC member to take in the women, who had lived on the covered porch of the former library building for two weeks after falling on hard times.
Margarita Szechenyi, who took them into her two-bedroom apartment in Alpharetta, said she empathized with the sisters’ plight. She said she was laid off and has been volunteering, much like the sisters have done.
After meeting them, she said she was inspired to offer space in her home.
“I felt the Lord telling me that ‘Your home is not your home,’ ” she said. “If it’s the Lord’s home, then who am I to say that somebody in need can’t stay with me?”
Cylinthia Fitchett said that after the newspaper issue hit the street last week, things moved pretty quickly.
“Everything went just like really crazy and really fast!” she said. “I’m almost beginning to feel normal again, like I can reclaim a normal life.”
Cylinthia, a former 20-year social worker with a college degree in psychology, is in line to become the first director of a living facility for homeless women.
She had been unable to find work in her field since she and her sister relocated to metro Atlanta from Hillside, N.J., in 2006. They worked temporary jobs and lived on proceeds from the sale of their late parents’ New Jersey home until the money ran out in 2009. Since then, they have lived in their car, bounced back and forth between friends, and living on the streets. When the car died, they ended up at the library.
SCLC board Chairman Lionel Gantt, who has 13 foreclosed houses donated to “Iron Sharpens Iron,” a separate program that he runs, said the boarded-up homes will be renovated into living space for homeless and low-income single mothers with children. Members had been discussing the idea at a meeting near the old library building when they noticed Cylinthia’s social work background.
“Somebody said, ‘I think we just found our first director,’” Knight said.
Gantt said the first four-bedroom house will be ready in a couple of weeks and Cylinthia is a prime candidate to manage it. She will meet with Gantt in the next few days to plan her exact role. In the meantime, she’s thrilled with the possibility of working again.
“Sounds like it will be a good balance of administrative and hands-on duties,” she said. “We’re very grateful.”
Camille wants to return to school and earn a college degree but in the short term may work with her sister on the housing resource project.