Life has not been a rose garden for Maranlely Rosas since she found herself without a home or a job.
At 22, Rosas, the mother of two little girls ages 5 and 2, felt as if her world was crumbling around her.
“I was living day by day, and I was very worried about my daughters,” said Rosas, whose friends call her “Gigi.”
“I was taking it one day at a time,” she added. “What else could I do?”
She lost her apartment when her building went into foreclosure. Rosas and her daughters found themselves living in a one-room shelter out by Kennedy Airport.
“We didn’t have a kitchen or a bathroom,” Rosas said. “I wasn’t able to prepare meals for the girls. It was a terribly uncomfortable situation.”
When her older daughter entered school and needed to be picked up at 3 p.m., things took a turn for the worse. Rosas was working at a Duane Reade store, but that would quickly change.
“My employer wasn’t able to change my hours,” Rosas said. “And I lost my job.”
It was a pretty desperate situation, but as luck would have it, the city Department of Homeless Services referred her to Hale House, the venerable Harlem institution founded in 1969 by Clara McBride Hale — “Mother Hale” — and Rosas’ life was transformed.
The nationally recognized nonprofit defines its mission as one of “building better futures for children and families in need.”
One of its most important services is its supportive transitional housing program for single parents and their families. For Rosas and her daughters, it seemed to be tailor-made.
“We do more than give temporary shelter,” said Annie Murphy, Hale House’s executive director. “We also provide them with educational, medical and vocational services.”
The temporary housing Hale House provides for families like Rosas’ is not at all what comes to mind whenever the word “shelter” is mentioned.
Actually, families are housed in renovated, well-maintained Hale House-owned apartments for 6 to 12 months. For Rosas, the move was nothing short of a miracle.
“It has a kitchen, a bathroom,” Rosas said. “I can cook again for my daughters. It feels like a real home.”
But Rosas — with the help of Hale House — is doing even more.
“I am going to school for my GED,” she said. “I have gone to job interviews before where they told me they liked me, but the job required a high-school diploma or a GED.”
The agency also prepares Rosas and others for the job search.
“We help them learn how to do a good job interview, put together a good résumé,” Murphy said. “The goal is to give families the tools so they can do all those things by themselves.”
The dramatic change in Rosas’ life was evident last Wednesday, during Hale House’s annual Spring Benefit Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Rosas — beaming with a new makeover and elegant dress provided by designer Tory Burch — rubbed elbows with Emmy-winner Patricia Clarkson, who hosted the event.
“She is young and attractive, and she fit right in,” Murphy said of Rosas.
With her family situation secure and looking forward to even better times, Rosas said the benefit made for quite a memorable event.
“I enjoyed it very much,” she said. “It was one of the best nights of my life.”