“And perhaps even here, it’s still worth it to bravely live with an open heart.”
~ Morgan Harper Nichols
When Jade and her growing family suddenly found themselves homeless, she chose to stay open and ask for the help they needed. “I don’t want to be scared because I’m going through something hard. That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve anything.”
After miscommunication between their apartment management and a credit agency, Jade’s family was displaced and couldn’t find housing. “We’ve had problems finding a place to stay because we have pets. The shelters kept telling me they were full, over and over again.”
The family has two pit bulls named Zeus and Ruby. Zeus is a rescue from the Ukraine, displaced himself because of the war.
During the pandemic, Jade, who is a Canadian immigrant, had to let her immigration paperwork expire because she had no financial ability to return to Canada with her family and paythe costs to quarantine in Ontario and then again in Newfoundland, where she is from.
Because Jade is unable to legally work until she receives her work permit, which she doesn’t expect for months yet, their family has had to rely solely on her husband’s income. She says, “There aren’t many immigration possibilities here. That made it really hard, especially now that we’re not in an apartment. We don’t have eviction protection. The cost of living in Charlotte is a little out of our budget. It’s expensive to be out in the car all the time, paying for hotels here or there, and just the emotional and mental aspects.”
Jade’s children are ages eight, six, and two, and she is expecting a baby in September. Jade says, “If it wasn’t for Roof Above, I wouldn’t have been able to meet my children’s basic needs at all: fresh clothes to go to school every day; a meal, whether it’s soup and sandwiches, just knowing they had a meal that day and some snacks; showers, making sure that they’re clean every day. I’m telling you, if [the Day Services Center] wasn’t here for my family, my family might not be a family. I was always scared of that happening, so I was diligent about making sure I could be here all the time so that I wouldn’t have to worry.”
Jade informed the school’s social worker of their situation right away because she wanted her daughter to be supported. Throughout this ordeal, Jade’s oldest daughter has kept up with her academic achievements. She says, “When she gets out of school, I feel like she unloads on us. She gives a lot more of the attitude and the snippiness, but we’re going through something, so I let her let it out. Because I don’t know exactly what she’s feeling, because she’s only eight, but I know what I’m going through as a parent, and I can’t imagine how she’s going to remember it later.”
The family spends a lot of time at the park “to keep the joy and child spirit there, not to make it all doom and gloom.” Jade says, “I hope my daughter remembers that she had fun. Maybe she won’t remember how hard this was for me. I don’t want her to remember what was bad about any of this. I just want her to know that I’ll always be there.”
Jade’s main goal is getting to a place of stability. She is looking forward to releasing some of the worry she’s been carrying. “I didn’t even know how strong I was until I went through this because I’ve never lived like this before. It will be nice to just relax and start looking toward the future.”
Jade encourages others who may be in a similar situation to stay open-hearted. She says, “I’m just open and honest, and I really encourage other families, regardless of what you’ve got going on in your personal life, when it comes to your children, just try to be open about your struggles. Nobody is saying [help is] going to happen overnight, but if you keep it together, you’ll be okay.”
Because of Jade’s openness with her daughter’s school social worker, her family is now receiving assistance from Families Forward, a Charlotte-based program that partners with families experiencing poverty to achieve lasting economic stability.
Emily, a long-time volunteer at Roof Above, is also a volunteer with Families Forward Charlotte, which uses Mobility Mentoring to support families experiencing poverty. Emily says, “I have had the very good fortune of being partnered with Jade. She and her family are staying at a hotel that allows their dogs to stay with them. We hope we can transition them to an Extended Stay eventually, followed by housing. Roof Above has been a huge help to Jade and her family.”