A once-homeless teacher in San Francisco is now enjoying a roof over her family's head, thanks to the incredible support of the online community.
Last December, The Huffington Post shared Raquel Tillett's struggle in 12 Days of Giving, a series featuring 12 families in need over the holiday season. At the time, Tillett was teaching middle-schoolers on weekdays, working a part-time retail job on the weekends and spending nights with her three children in hotel rooms -- or in her car on nights they couldn't afford to rent a room.
But thanks to generous donations, she now has a permanent place to call home.
With assistance from the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing, Tillett found her new, two-bedroom home on Saturday, Jan. 31, and moved in two days later with her kids. The home has yet to be fully furnished, but Tillet told The Huffington Post in an email that those four walls are warm ones, and additional donations helped her secure beds for her kids soon after the move. She said they are all well and happy.
"My children and I are no longer in the cold, or in some place that is fit for animals," said Tillett.
The campaign raised $3,723, the majority of which was donated by HuffPost readers, according to crowdfunding organization HandUp, which hosts her donating page in coordination with Project Homeless Connect.
Tillett has spent the past three years working to repay her debt, overcome the obstacle of bad credit and find permanent housing for her family. And while legal struggles over the custody of her children with her husband and their pending divorce are not yet over, securing a home has allowed her to focus her energy on her teaching, her children and her education. She is now fundraising to go back to school for her master's degree.
"In the future, I would like to teach children during the day and teach nurses and doctors at night," Tillett wrote on her HandUp page. She aims to finish her master's degree in arts and teaching in 2016, and then pursue her Ph.D. in education or train to become a nurse practitioner.
On Feb. 10, Tillett posted the following update to her HandUp donation page, explaining that she had secured a home for her and her family, and expressing her gratitude to all who helped make their move possible:
Dear generous benefactors:
I want to first thank you for the benevolence you extended to my children and I during our time of need. Your generosity have made it possible to stay warm and safely off the streets of this metropolitan city; without your largehearted good will I know not where my family would have stayed during these cold and rainy winter months.
Secondly, I am prepared and willing to give back as a volunteer to any cause that you may desire. I too am incline with a benevolent heart, but penury makes it impossible to give in a monetary way at present.
Thirdly, I would like all of you to know that my family has secured a permanent place to call "home." Albeit now we are in need of furnishings and household items to make it a warm place. I once again am imploring you for help in this capacity. I am not able to provide these necessary things at present and would appreciate your generosity once again. I am grateful for all. I am now better able to concentrate on making our life more stable and to continue with the pursuit of my masters.
I supplicate you for assistance in this manner. I aspire success both as a mother, providing for my children and as an educator imparting knowledge to my students.
Many warm thank you to all for your love and kindness.
Learn more about how you can help Tillett and her family here.