Ventnor woman reaches out to homeless after successfully turning her life around

Sarah Kabo, 38, sat with her laptop in her Ventnor apartment recently. She has faced challenges head-on over the past few years, losing 70 pounds and moving into an apartment after a period of homelessness. Now, she helps others.

In 2010, Sarah Kabo found herself somewhere unexpected: at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. Kabo, who said she was a victim of circumstance, found herself to be homeless. Before her experience, she lived in countless places all over Atlantic County.

"Sometimes you don't know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have," Kabo said. "Like my situation, a lot of people are victims of circumstance."

Kabo stayed at the Rescue Mission for two weeks, and then in a series of hotels or with different people she knew. It was essential, Kabo said, to avoid caring whether people judged her. She used the Women's Center in Linwood, went to local food pantries, and sought counseling. With the help of the Mission, Kabo got back on her feet.

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Since her experience with homelessness, Kabo has moved; she has lived in Ventnor ever since. About a year ago, after being stable in her apartment for a few years, Kabo faced a new challenge. She said she was feeling depressed.

"Basically, I was depressed because I couldn't fit into any of my clothes," Kabo said. "I joined a gym, and it was the best thing I could've ever done for myself. It's a positive environment, and I feel I have my self confidence back. I feel like I'm 10 years younger."

Kabo lost 70 pounds and dropped from a size 2X to a 10. Fitness, she said, gave her a new lease on life. Her depression lifted, she feels less stress, and she is diabetes free.

"I lost the weight on my own. I started eating small meals and watching fat and sugar and salt intake," Kabo said. "It took about a year."

Now the Ventnor resident works with other volunteers in disaster relief and homeless organizations.

When she can, Kabo said, she tries to personally help out people who are homeless.

"When I see homeless people and when I have extra funds, if I can help them, I will," she said. "I'll buy them dinner and help with counseling. I basically try to empower them to stay encouraged and let them know there is hope and resources that will help you get back on your feet."

But Kabo did say that a person needs to want help before she or anyone else can successfully offer it.

In addition to the various resources that Kabo used when she was homeless, she said there was one other resource that was instrumental in her moving forward.

"My mother has been my rock. She's definitely helped me out tremendously and helped me get back on my feet," Kabo said. "She's been there for me aside from anyone else."

Despite the difficulty of her experience, Kabo said she found out this area offers valuable resources for those experiencing homelessness.

"There are so many resources out there like Women's Center in Linwood, churches, synagogues and food pantries," Kabo said.

"But (people) have to take the first step and say, 'I need help,'" Kabo said. "Never give up. Seek those resources out."

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