COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After getting pregnant at 17 years old, Tracy Wimberly said her abusive mother kicked her out of the house.

Wimberly, whose childhood often featured bare pantry cupboards and no electricity, said she was put on a 14-hour bus ride with no shoes and no money.

“I was made to choose between my shoes and my underwear,” she said.

After getting a job with Walmart transportation in Georgia and two kids later, Wimberly moved to Grove City, Ohio, where she relocated for a promotion.

“I cooked — one pot, no microwave,” she said. “The job I thought would change our lives, I lost it during Covid.”

Although she found a new job, Wimberly said she was strapped for cash, her checks got smaller and smaller, and she struggled to provide for her children.

“My checks were $1,200 dollars, and my checks were $1,179,” she said. “You look in your hands at the end of the money, and you have nothing … I have nothing more to give these babies.”

But, thanks to the Congregational Outreach Ministries Program of Assistance and Social Services, also known as COMPASS, a Columbus organization that seeks to prevent homelessness and promote self-sufficiency, Wimberly found her true north.

Robin Green, director of COMPASS, said COVID-19 has brought about the most challenging time her organization has experienced in its 37 years of existence.

With about 1,600 eviction filings in Franklin County each year — which has been exacerbated by the pandemic — Green said COMPASS strives to find housing and support services for homeless central Ohioans like Wimberly.

“My daughters could always come home,” Green said as she choked up. “Let me push everything to the side, put it in storage, they can come home. (Wimberly) didn’t have that.”

Along with Gifts of Kindness from the Columbus Foundation, Green said COMPASS found the Wimberlys a home.

“Why should she be out on the street if she didn’t have that support if she is trying,” Green said.

Wimberly said that after hitting rock bottom, she finally found a person she could trust to help her in Green and COMPASS.

Thanks to the advice of Green, Wimberly, whose job has been steady, said she went to school to receive financial counseling.

“I budget for my dad, I budget for my relationship, for my friends, for my brothers,” she said.

For the future, Wimberly said she strives to become a first-generation home owner.

“We moved here with nothing,” Wimberly said through tears. ”I’m so happy! And we have so much more to be thankful for, and that’s all I ever wanted for them.”