"We all need help sometime."
Had you told Barbara Droll that she would one day be living in a homeless shelter, she would have probably laughed. Growing up in Lowell, Barbara was a bright, well-spoken and ambitious young woman who graduated with a teaching degree from Lowell State College (now University of Massachusetts Lowell) and went on to earn her master's degree during a successful 22-year teaching career in Lowell elementary schools. After retiring from teaching, Barbara pursued a second career in home health care and moved to Maine to provide live-in care for an ailing young man with multiple sclerosis. When that resident died unexpectedly and Barbara had trouble finding work that paid enough to cover her expenses, she ultimately returned to Lowell, where she began substitute teaching, but could not make enough money to pay the rent. Penniless and not knowing where else to turn, she found herself at the doorstep of the Lowell Transitional Living Center.
"I never dreamed this could happen to me. I am educated and a hard worker. But I made a couple of bad decisions, didn't save money, and I found myself here. I cried when I had to move into the shelter and go on welfare. But I realize now there is no shame. We all need help sometime. It doesn't matter what position you have, what education you have, or how hard you work. It can happen to any of us."
After several months, Barbara was able to move into one of the affordable housing apartments above the center. She has returned to teaching, working as a teacher's aide at the Lowell Community Charter School around the corner on Jackson Street.
"It is terrifying for me to think of what might have happened if the center hadn't been here for me. I am not a street person. I would not have survived out there. I might have been dead. Thank God they were here. They allowed me to get my life back."