As if life with 7 children isn’t hard enough, about 2 years ago, Jolene’s husband was incarcerated. Shortly after that, she lost her job, her car, and was evicted from her home. The family moved in with a family member for a short time until moving into one room with 5 of the children in an extended stay motel.
Since then, Jolene has exhausted herself working multiple jobs for very low wages. Living with the constant threat of homelessness has been overwhelming at times and understandably it has been hard for her to stay positive, but she persevered. She thinks her strength and resilience comes from her faith in God and being raised in the foster care system in Georgia. When her children brought home applications for St. Vincent de Paul Georgia’s Motel 2 Home (M2H) program from their school counselors, she hoped this was a sign that her life could change. The M2H program moves individuals and families such as Jolene’s from living in extended-stay motels to affordable apartments, giving them housing stability and the tools and knowledge they need to maintain it.
For the past year, Jolene has been a dedicated M2H participant even as the program transitioned into remote delivery of services due to Covid-19. She took classes on budgeting, credit repair, building savings, career advancement and attended several virtual job fairs. Jolene paid off some of her debt but still could not get accepted by an apartment because of her low income and very large family size. She and her caseworkers filled out many applications for public housing but were unable to find her a home.
That changed this December when Jolene received a very special Christmas present. She was accepted into Gwinnett County’s Pathway Home program and in January moved into a safe, 3-bedroom townhome for about half the cost of one room in the motel. St. Vincent de Paul Georgia and Fully Furnished provided an entire household of furniture and essential items. Each of her children now has their own desks to attend their virtual schools and Jolene is finally in a position to think about her own education and advancement. Her hope is to pass the GED and obtain some specialized job training to increase her income.
*name changed to protect her privacy