This August will mark two years since the day L.J.’s life turned upside down. “It’s a day I will never forget,” she says, wiping away tears. “It was the first day of school. The sun was shining through the windows. And then there was a knock on my door. Two police officers were outside, telling me I was being evicted.”
L.J., pregnant and caring for three young children, was blindsided. The person kicking her out was her husband. Involved in another relationship, he no longer wanted her in his life. He also told police about a three-year-old warrant against L.J. – so not only was she kicked out of the house, she was taken away to jail. “My kids were pounding on the window, screaming ‘Mommy, Mommy!’ It was all I heard.”
It took days to be reunited with her children. The four of them moved in with L.J.’s grandmother, who was already allowing 8 other people to live in her home. L.J. and one child shared a sofa; two children slept beside her on the floor. Stress weighed on L.J. and she went into pre-term labor. Her doctor ordered bed rest. The situation became too difficult for her grandmother to manage, and she asked L.J. and the children to leave.
At GUM, we see many families like L.J.’s. Our goal is to meet them where they need us. We don’t ask them why they have this fire of crisis in their lives. Instead, we ask them where they want to go and how we can help them get there.
Families need special support. Issues can become especially difficult in summer. Food budgets are at a premium with children home all day. Stress peaks for families who are doubled up and resources stretched even more thinly.
Thanks to your support, GUM is here with daily lunch in Potter’s House and emergency groceries. Pathways Center can shelter 16 families in well-kept studio units. At Partnership Village, residents find a safe, supportive housing community for families with children, as well as men and women, who have experienced homelessness.
In L.J.’s case, she and her children were able to move in with her mother in Burlington. During her bed rest and medical care, she met a hospital counselor who told her about Pathways. L.J. put her family on the waiting list. Her youngest son was born in February. Shortly after, a spot opened up at our family shelter. She took her children a moved in. Weeks later, her mom lost her housing.
L.J.’s case manager, Pam, was more like a mentor, she said. She could cry with her and learn with her. “I’ve never been in this predicament before. I’ve never lost everything,” she told Pam. “Tell me what I need to do, and I’ll do it.”
She found a job. She started building income and savings. Soon, she was able to look for an apartment. Today, she and her children, ages 8, 6, 3 and 1, are settled into a three-bedroom unit in Partnership Village. Her two older children go to the after-school tutoring club, hosted by The Servant Leadership School of Greensboro. They enjoy poetry basketball with Clement Mallory, spoken-word artist, who volunteers at Partnership Village. And they will go to sleep-away camp this summer at Camp Weaver, thanks to the support of many congregations and individual donors.
At Greensboro Urban Ministry, we pray for a day when our community insists that all of us be fed, housed and made whole. Until that day, we will continue to help as many people as we can for as long as we can. We do this because of you. You make this possible with your gifts of time and financial donations. Thank you for staying with us on the front lines!