Lewan Kaar (not her real name) first came to BOSS in November 2015. After eight years of homelessness and waiting four years to be approved for subsidized housing, she had finally found and moved into her own home, and needed help managing her funds.

Warm and confident, with an easy, friendly smile and demeanor, when you first meet Lewan it is impossible to know everything she has experienced and dealt with over the years – as is the case, she points out, for nearly everyone you meet.

“Everybody is going through something,” she says. “You don’t know their mental state just from looking at them.”

In Lewan’s case, what she had gone through was intensely traumatic – including domestic violence, rape, homelessness, and being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, PTSD, and depression. Before becoming homeless, she had worked at a law firm – but like too many people in our community, as crises overwhelmed her, she fell into homelessness.

She sought support, and has been engaged with the mental health group Pathways to Wellness for several years. She takes medication, and works hard to be a loving and supportive mom to her four children, including a toddler who is with her full-time, two daughters living with their dad, and a son living out of state.

Lewan was referred to BOSS by another organization for help in applying for SSI benefit income. The BOSS Individualized Placement Support (IPS) Program helped her apply for benefits – and when she was initially denied, they helped her appeal, and she eventually secured SSDI.

“When you’re on the street, it’s all about survival,” she says, explaining why she sought money management assistance. “People steal your stuff, you’re worried about being raped, it’s a mindset and it’s hard to get over that.”

Today Lewan is doing extremely well, maintaining her housing and taking care of her children. She credits the BOSS Representative Payee staff with providing much needed stability.

“It’s so nice to see a friendly face every Monday,” she says of the days she checks in with staff. “Sometimes I ask if they have a few moments just to talk, if I’m going through something.” Before being part of the Rep Payee program, she says, “I would spend my money carelessly. My bills wouldn’t get paid.”

This is a common experience among BOSS Rep Payee participants – the reliable help paying bills prevents them from falling behind and becoming homeless, and the regular social interaction helps them avoid the isolation that is common in the mentally ill community.

“I’m in a good place now,” Lewan says.

We are proud of Lewan, and honored to be part of her journey – with thanks to the community for supporting ilfe-changing programs like the BOSS Representative Payee program!

For more information about the BOSS Representative Payee Program, contact Chari Kelley at ckelley@self-sufficiency.org.

Donate here to support BOSS programs and help people like Lewan!