After a fire left her homeless, she found a home at the Times Square.
15 years ago, Yvonne Saunders woke up and thought for a moment that she needed to wipe the fog from her eyes. Then she smelled smoke, and quickly realized her Harlem apartment building was on fire. Minutes later, she was down on the street with the other tenants of her building making sure everyone was accounted for. When she was finally allowed back upstairs, “it was futile” she says – she had lost everything. Yvonne spent the next five months in a Harlem shelter before she found permanent housing at Breaking Ground’s Times Square residence. In May of 2017, she celebrated 14 years at the Times Square.
A few years ago, she had been working hard on moving to a larger apartment, but then, she says, “I was just meant to be here at the Times Square.” An unexpected illness left her on the floor of her apartment, unable to move, for nearly two days. Then a neighbor checked in on her, knocked on the door, and luckily heard her faint voice through the door. “If I’d have been in any old apartment building when that happened, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Though the inability to work in the face of her illness threw her for a loop – “I’ve always had a job” – today, she’s on the mend, and hopeful. She’s also able to take advantage of two activities at the Times Square that she otherwise wouldn’t have – the jewelry and art classes. She now makes all of her own jewelry. Hoping to get back to work in the near future, Yvonne is grateful that the Times Square was there to catch her when she fell.