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Catching up with local landlord and Safe Step graduate Yoselin of Springfield
When Yoselin of Springfield turns it up in her kitchen, the dish she is most apt to prepare is sancocho Dominicano, a spicy stew of meat and root vegetables. It’s a testament to her home country, the Dominican Republic, which she left for Boston in 2015. And what she cooks, she shares: with neighbors, family, friends. It’s just a part of who she is. Food and connections, all served up with Yoselin’s smile.
“I cooked all weekend, and my neighbors were eating good!” Yoselin says in Spanish, as translated by Carmen Navaro, Way Finders’ Manager of Supportive Housing Programs.
We recently met up with Carmen and Yoselin, a kitchen department manager at a McDonald’s restaurant in Springfield.
“When Yoselin joined Safe Step in 2016, she came with nothing,” says Carmen, in reference to Way Finders’ supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence. “Just clothes and two children. And the job she’d newly secured at McDonald’s, while living briefly in shelter at the YWCA. She had to walk to the bus stop, but she made it to work every day. She figured out a way and made it happen.”
Yoselin arrived to our interview with hugs, a few happy tears, and a host of open invitations: To visit the two-family home that she purchased in Springfield in 2021, all 2,800 square feet of it. To try her sancocho over rice. To see photos of her children and grandchildren. And to visit her second property, an apartment that Yoselin purchased in 2020 in the capital city of the Dominican Republic.
“She’s always inviting me to go!” says Carmen, who served as Yoselin’s Safe Step case manager and has kept in touch with her over the years. “I’m proud of you, Yoselin, I love you, girl. She was able to do all this by herself. All the money she got, like during the pandemic, she saved, to be able to buy a home.”
Yoselin, who began experiencing domestic violence three months after immigrating to the United States, is open about her feelings for Carmen (“She says I’m part of her family, that she always talks about me.”) and her experience with Safe Step.
“I don’t get embarrassed talking about it to people. I say, ‘I came from a shelter, and I did good there. The staff were great to me, they treat you well,’” says Yoselin. “I don’t regret it, I was very happy with the program. If it weren’t for Safe Step, I wouldn’t have been able to get everything I have today. It helped me save money, so I could buy things little by little. It put a roof over my children’s heads.”
Yoselin, who rises at 3:30 am and logs 60+ hours a week, relishes her new title of landlord. She lives on the second floor of her 1915 home and rents out the first floor. Her daughter and grandchildren have the third level—complete with its own kitchenette, living room, two bedrooms, and full bathroom. Beyond cooking, her other favorite pastime at home is dancing.
When asked what she hopes for, housing is top of mind for Yoselin.
“She wants to buy another house so she can just live by being the landlord,” Carmen translates. “She’ll keep working until she’s able to get at least two or three houses, and then she’ll retire. Waking up to be at work for five, commuting by bus, she’s just getting tired. So that’s what she’s working toward now, she’s planning to buy another home in 2024.”
We closed out our interview by asking Yoselin what advice she might share with someone who is struggling?
“First, you don’t need a man to get ahead. Just a man who loves you...loves you...and won’t mistreat you or tell you what you can and can’t do,” says Yoselin. “And second, that anything is possible when you put God first. Don’t lose sight of your dreams, keep fighting for them.”