Opal, a hospice caregiver in Santa Clara County, lived in her car for almost three years before a chance encounter with Serge Lilavois, PATH San Jose’s Associate Director, at a gas station in early March. Opal has worked as an in-home hospice caregiver for over thirty years, but she began experiencing homelessness when the family she lived with sold their house.
After Opal explained her situation, Serge knew she would be a good fit for the Rapid Resolution program, so he connected Opal with Ryan Sharek, PATH San Jose’s Rapid Resolution Specialist. Ryan works to permanently house individuals experiencing homelessness within 30 days of enrolling into the program by using a problem-solving, person-centered approach.
After completing a housing assessment with Opal, Ryan worked tirelessly with Amber Fogo, PATH San Jose’s Housing Coordinator, to find an affordable apartment that fit Opal’s needs. Within two weeks of meeting Serge at the gas station, Opal moved into her new home in San Jose.
Opal said the first night in her new bed was the best night’s sleep she has had in years. Now with a safe place to live, Opal can get her car repaired after it was broken into late last year. When she was living out of her car, Opal couldn’t leave her vehicle to get the necessary repairs because she had nowhere else to sleep.
Opal is a firm believer in the resources and services that PATH provides. She describes her new home as fabulous and said, “I never believed someone could help me out of that car.”
She recently passed along PATH’s contact information to another woman she saw living out of her car, encouraging her to reach out to Serge and telling her, “It is incredible what the people at PATH can do for you. They are real about what they say they are going to do,” Opal shared, “I am a living witness.”