J’Herica has a long history of emotional struggles, homelessness and “roaming the streets,” yet now has hope for light at the end of the tunnel. For her, the light will come when she can reunify with her children, who now stay with her mom. Now that J’Herica lives stably at Pathlight HOME’s Maxwell Garden Apartments and works part-time in guest services, she believes this is possible.
J’Herica is excited about the new job, yet hard on herself about her difficulties. “I’m trying not to be judgmental of my predicament,” she says. “I have to be stable enough to take care of myself. You have to be able to provide for them [children].” To that end, she meets regularly with her Case Manager, Gail Smith, who “makes sure I’m managing my medications…and asks how she can help with finances, money management, and what’s new [in her life].”
The road to bettering oneself can have unexpected consequences, however. The part-time hours, at basically minimum wage, reduces her SSI assistance. Too, J’Herica’s food stamp benefits are minimal. And though her rent/electricity at Maxwell Garden is just 30% of her income, the transportation, food, phone, other expenses eat through her cash quickly, often leaving her cabinets bare of cans and boxes.
J’Herica doesn’t want to ask anyone for money, “That’s the last thing you ever want to do…ask for a dollar.” However, she’s willing to share her story, with hope that the community will support Pathlight HOME’s February Non-Perishable Food Drive,* in order to help residents with a most basic need as they work to change their lives.
“Food is something we want to store,” she says. “I have storage space [in her apartment], but it’s completely empty. What am I supposed to do? It’s a struggle…I try to stretch my money.”
Thinking back, she explains, “I didn’t get an education; I had pressure, pain, anxiety, and manic-depression over the years. (Yet), I come from a home where food was never the issue. I’m used to having food.”
And nowadays? “When you see the food, it’s ‘teasing,’” she says about the glut of restaurant signs and ads, or the few times she’s splurged on a sandwich. Mom that she is, she wants full cabinets when her children come to visit. “I’d be highly embarrassed if the kids come and I have nothing to give them.”
J’Herica calls this time in her life, with its changes, ups and downs, “The journey to take placement…a place where you can be stable.” We think that’s an apt description of moving forward, yet still needing some basics necessities, such as food.
“It only makes me stronger by replenishing the pieces,” she says with an inner strength peeking through. “I’ve got to tell myself, ‘Don’t fail me now. I’ve come a long way.’” And she has!
*Please donate non-perishable food Monday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Two drop-off Locations:
- Pathlight Kitchen - 3200 W. Colonial Drive; Orlando, Florida 32808
- Sobik’s Subs - 4049 S. Orange Blossom Trail; Orlando, Florida 32839