Dina Spry and her family have become the face of homelessness in Talbot County. She is sharing her story to help combat the cliché of what people think of those who are homeless. “I want everyone to know that you don’t have to be a bad person to be homeless…You can just be one paycheck away from homelessness.”
Eight years ago, both Dina and her husband, Mike, had jobs, a four-year-old, and a newborn. Things quickly came crashing down around them when their landlord sold their rental and gave the young family 30-days-notice. Under the immense pressure of becoming homeless, Dina and Mike separated. Dina and the young children spent the next five months living out of her car. She explained, “I drove them around and around until they fell asleep so they wouldn’t know we were homeless.”
Even eight years later, it’s impossible for Dina to hold back her tears. She cries for the rough times of her past, and sheds happy tears for what came out of those hard days. “It was a rough time,” she admits.
Back in 2014, TIS had just opened its year-round shelter at 107 Goldsborough Street in downtown Easton after having operated as a rotating cold weather shelter for five years. Dina learned about TIS from her babysitter and finally was able to settle the children and herself in a bed for the first time in five months. “It was the most amazing feeling to come to Talbot Interfaith Shelter,” Dina said. “This is everything!”
Mike joined his family at the shelter soon after and they worked on their marriage and their situation. They were committed to the TIS S4 Program (shelter, stability, support, success), which includes case management, educational programming, and subsidized transitional housing.
“The shelter did amazing things for my family,” Dina said. “We wouldn’t be where we are now without them.”
The family moved into TIS transitional housing where they lived for four years, then moved into their current rental for the past four years. Dina hopes that within a year they will be moving into their own home as they have started the process with Habitat for Humanity to purchase a home.
In June, Dina began work at TIS as assistant to Fran Doran, TIS director of operations. “It means a lot to me to work for TIS. It means the world to me to come to work every day,” explains Dina. “I fully enjoy my job. I get a lot out of my job and go home and feel good about it.”
Guests at the shelter can relate to Dina, as she has walked in their shoes. That’s what in part makes Dina so good at her job. “I can relate to anyone’s story, and I also know what it takes to succeed,” she added.