FSL Acacia Heights Resident Shares Journey Out of Homelessness at AZHC Annual Conference
By Lindsay Hansen -
Friday Feb 17, 2023
FSL Acacia Heights Resident Shares Journey Out of Homelessness at AZHC Annual Conference Ariel’s Artwork Will be Featured in Refocus: Reframe Art Exhibit
The Arizona Housing Coalition (AZHC) 2023 Annual Conference is set for Feb. 28 and March 1. A first this year, the Annual Conference will include a collaborative art space. Local artists will be showcasing their work related to the concept of the ideal community, sharing what a dream community looks like through each artist’s lens. The public is invited to attend the Art Exhibit’s “Meet the Artists” session on February 28 between 3 and 4pm in Building A of the Mesa Convention Center (663 N Center St, Mesa, AZ 85201).
Ariel White is one of the featured artists and a FSL Acacia Heights resident. Acacia Heights is an affordable housing community for seniors 62+ in Phoenix. Ariel holds a master’s degree in accounting and worked for the State of Arizona as an auditor for years. However, she had a string of bad luck starting in 2017 when she lost her job due to a debilitating medical illness. From there, things started to take a downhill spiral. She found herself unable to afford rent, groceries, gas and ended up without a car. She was homeless for the first time in her life. Ariel stayed with family and friends for about 18 months before COVID hit. During that time, she lost her son to suicide. Unable to find the comfort, safety, and privacy Ariel needed to grieve, Ariel describes this as the most difficult time of her life.
“I felt hopeless,” said Ariel White. “I wasn’t medically cleared to work anymore, and it was becoming increasing tough to make ends meet. I wasn’t sure where I was going to live and had worn out my options for family and friends. In July 2021, I found FSL by searching online and was happy to hear they had some affordable housing options. Thankfully, I was accepted and now my life has meaning and purpose again.”
She loves living at Acacia Heights. She volunteers in the food pantry, organizing potlucks and enjoys getting to know her neighbors. To deal with the grief of her son passing, she found a new passion – art! She loves to repurpose everything household items like an old colander, clothing and create artwork. At the end of December, she created the beautiful “Tree of Hope” art piece for FSL as a “thank you” and token of her appreciation. The piece was selected to be featured in the Refocus: Reframe AZHC Annual Conference Art Exhibit and will now be auctioned off on Feb. 28. For her winning submission, Ariel received a gift card, which she gladly donated back to FSL.
“FSL has provided me with a stability and a safe place to live,” said Ariel. “I am forever grateful. They restored my dignity and confidence too. The stigma of being homeless is challenging. I definitely never thought I would be in this situation and want to others to know you can’t lose your hope or faith.”
FSL is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide home and community-based services and to develop energy-efficient, affordable housing to promote health, independence and dignity for all. With a long history of helping Arizona families with issues including health, hunger, aging, illness, loneliness and substandard housing, FSL is committed to improving the quality of life for all Arizonans. To learn more about FSL programs and services, visit fsl.org.
About the Arizona Housing Coalition:
The Arizona Housing Coalition is a collaborative association leading efforts to end homelessness and advocate for safe, affordable homes for all Arizonans. The Art Exhibit is sponsored by the Arizona Housing Coalition and curated by Arizona resident artist Meera Norris. Visit http://www.azhousingcoalition.org for additional information or contact Communications Manager Jamie Podratz at [email protected] or (480) 569-2593 to learn more.