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  • Writer's pictureIPH Staff

Paying it Forward: Former guest donates $20,000 to IPH

Nearly 15 years ago, a woman walked into the IPH Albany Emergency Shelter newly homeless, seeking a safe place to stay and unsure of what the future held for her.

And just this month, that same woman made a $20,000 donation to the agency that provided critical aid and support to her during one of the darkest periods of her life.

“IPH is a safety net. It saved me from living on the sidewalk or under a bridge,” said the donor and former IPH guest, who wishes to remain anonymous. “It’s one thing to be on the receiving end, but another when you can give back. And I knew once I was able to, I would give back.”

As with many IPH guests, there were multiple factors that led the woman to experiencing homelessness. Following a separation from her husband, the former guest’s financial situation took a turn for the worse. She was “just making do” and was ineligible for social services assistance because her income was slightly above the limit. The recession led to job loss, which led to unemployment – which eventually ran dry.

“It was a frustrating and dark time,” she said.

After being forced to leave her apartment when the building was declared unsuitable for tenants, the now IPH donor found her way to the IPH Albany Emergency Shelter, which became her home for one month and provided the network of support she needed to meet her most basic needs while establishing a foundation for her future.

“I was grateful for IPH. I had a bed. I had a clean facility to wash myself. It’s the little things that make a difference. We kept a routine, which kept us from spiraling out,” she said. “Without a place like IPH, people get used to not sleeping in a bed, eating regular food, bathing or interacting with people. As bad as the situation was, I could see the steps to the other side.”

The former guest looks back fondly on the camaraderie she felt with other women at the shelter. She specifically recalls a night when they teamed up to sneak snacks from the kitchen and enjoyed them together in bed late at night. The act helped them bond and feel connected during a time of uncertainty and loneliness.

“Whenever we could find the pieces we could enjoy, we did. We were all in the same boat and made the best of it,” she said.

She also remembers the care and compassion demonstrated by IPH staff during her stay at the shelter.

“No one was judging you. People were nice enough to listen and be understanding,” said the former guest. “IPH is there to keep you healthy, keep you moving and wake you up to get your day started.”

Shortly after she was discharged from IPH, the donor found a secretarial position with New York State, where she worked for several years before moving to North Carolina in March 2020. She is an ordained reverend, poet, writer, actress and artist, as well as the founder and director of the Black Diamond Group Performance Ensemble.

Looking back on her IPH experience, the now donor wants others going through a similar situation to know that it can – and will – get better.

“The time I spent in a shelter is a part of my experience, but not all of it. At the time, it feels like it will last forever. But where you are now is not the truth of who you are completely. If you can hold on, it does get better. I was in poor spirit, but I found a way to hold on,” she said. “IPH is there to let you know that this isn’t the end and that there’s more in store for you. They are there to keep you connected to hope.”


This donor’s story is just one example of the many positive and successful outcomes we see each day at IPH. Your donation can help make another success story a reality. Donate today at

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