Our Marketplace “First”
Regina wavers between tears and smiles as she talks about her recent “firsts.” This is the FIRST time the mother of four has ever had her own place; and she is the FIRST Pathlight HOME resident to visit our new Marketplace. Through the generosity of donors, Regina was able to select touches to help make her place “home.”
Regina spent her earliest years with her folks on Orlando’s Navy base, where her dad was stationed. When her parents divorced, Regina, her brothers and mother moved to live with her grandmother in Leesburg. When she was 10, her grandmother died, her mother left, and she and one brother went to live with their dad in Apopka until she was 18.
“It was good. Dad had a business. I had the nice things of life. I’m very appreciative of that.” Her father had a residential and commercial cleaning company. She and her brother helped in the business and were rewarded every August with a shopping spree in Miami to buy school clothes. “It was fun,” she remembers.
Regina had goals back then. She even planned a career in Information Technology. Interestingly, she also dreamed about turning a former Hilton Hotel on Colonial Drive (which is now Maxwell Terrace) into housing for the homeless.
What should have been a happy occasion instead turned tragic and set Regina on a downward course. Her high school guidance counselor had started a sorority for the 15-18 year-old Black girls and Regina and her friends were extremely excited. (In fact, she was so crazy excited about the sorority and God that her friends began calling her “Lala.”) They worked hard to plan a fundraiser. The morning of the fundraiser came, but their counselor didn’t show up. “That morning, our counselor was shot and killed! We were crushed.”
Regina’s world turned dark and her life changed. “That led to [my] giving up. Darkness came. I couldn’t get up to ‘be’ anything. She had given me a reason to want to BE something. When she was taken, I didn’t want to pursue any goals. It put a damper on my spirit.”
Though she graduated high school, Regina became pregnant and had her baby three months after graduation. She worked, yet her life became one of living with her mother, getting into “bad situations,” being homeless, having more children, and moving in with her dad. “That’s not half of it,” she says. “I moved lots of places and was in abusive relationships. I could write a book!”
In 2018, Regina moved into Maxwell Terrace with her mother. “Something told me to come here,” she says. “Maybe I was seeing it wrong. Instead of me turning it into a place for homeless people, my intuition was telling me I would be homeless and live here!”
“I came in and met Miss Clarissa,” she remembers. “She just took me right in, like an angel. She saw my pain and helped me get out of the situation.”
Regina eventually told her mom, “I love you but I want my own place.” This summer, she got an opportunity to do just that when a unit became available through a Pathlight HOME partnership with the Orlando Housing Authority. “Miss Sandra pushed me right in. I was very grateful,” she says.
Starting with gently-used furniture from family, she’s added much-appreciated treasures from the Marketplace. “I got a Scrabble game! I love Scrabble…and an iron…hygiene products, three shirts, a glass and mattress pad!”
“And there’s another connection,” she says about the new Marketplace. “I wanted to open up a thrift store. I went to yard sales to get items to open up a business. Maybe I’m now getting it in a different way. I’m making progress. It just feels good.”
Donating to the Pathlight HOME Warming Fund will support residents like Regina in their journey to stability. Warm hearts and homes by donating today.