Stephen and Nina have persevered through addiction and homelessness. Now, they look to create a better future for their family.

Nina, Stephen and their two kids pose together on the JKC lawn | homeless family help
Together, Nina, Stephen and their children have overcome many obstacles.

Around Valentine’s Day, the world becomes saturated with flowers, chocolates and teddy bears and reminds us that love is as essential as food and water.

Love is about stepping forward in life, knowing that someone is always beside you, ready to support you no matter what.  Love is something that gives you strength and courage, even as you face seemingly impossible obstacles.

Nina met Stephen, the brother of her best friend, as a teenager. They began dating a few years later and soon became inseparable.

However, they faced challenges early on.

Stephen was battling addiction and eventually checked into a sober living facility. Nina stayed by his side supporting him throughout the recovery process.

With Stephen sober, the couple moved into their own apartment and had their first child.

Child peeks through a playground structure. | homeless family help
Their first child brought so much love into their lives, as well as some challenges.

They had no idea that their new neighbors had drug problems of their own.

“Where we were living, there were always drugs around us and my husband is a recovering addict,” Nina explains. The neighbors were loud and chaotic, often waking up their baby. “It was best for us to just leave.”


Unfortunately, Nina and Stephen quickly discovered that their minimum wage jobs made it impossible to afford living anywhere else. At that point, they became homeless and began bouncing between cheap motels.

Homelessness was the greatest trial the couple had faced so far, with Stephen working to maintain his sobriety under the pressures of taking care of a family. 

“Our love for each other and our son kept us together.”


When Nina became pregnant with their second child, the couple knew it was time to get help. They came to Father Joe’s Villages for support and eventually moved into the Family Living Center with their young children.

Stephen and Nina quickly signed up for Father Joe’s Villages’ STEPs (Skills & Training Enhancement Programs) vocational training program and enrolled their children in Therapeutic Childcare.

Knowing their kids were well cared for, Stephen put in the hours and completed Father Joe’s Villages’ Culinary Arts Program, while Nina trained to become a housekeeper for upscale hotels. Completing these vocational training programs helped Nina and Stephen secure stable work, Nina at a hotel in Mission Beach and Stephen at a restaurant downtown.

Nina and Stephen play with their kids on the playground. | homeless family help
“I always have Stephen’s back, and he always has mine.”

Stephen has maintained his sobriety throughout the trying times.

“Stephen’s focus is on his kids and building our life together. He wants our kids to grow up around a positive role model.”


Now the couple is saving their money and searching for affordable family-friendly housing. They look forward to being able to thrive on their own.

“I am so proud of Stephen and of everything we’ve accomplished here,” Nina says, beaming with gratitude. “I have a job. He’s working again. He’s healthy and happy and doing what he wants to do. Our kids are excelling.”


When asked how they made it through, Nina answers, “I always have Stephen’s back, and he always has mine.”

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