'It's about my son': Single mom credits FRESH Start with changing her life, helping to provide stability for toddler
Mindy lives across the street from Lebanon County Christian Ministries, but not too long ago, she lived at LCCM’s FRESH Start Emergency Shelter & Resource Center.
Prior to arriving at FRESH Start in August 2018 with her son, Jayvion, who at the time was just a few months old, the 27-year-old’s life involved a mix of drug use, unstable housing and unemployment.
She wanted a better life, but the baggage from her past followed her into FRESH Start and cut her time short because she was, as she describes it, “defiant.”
When she left, she slid back into old patterns of struggling to hold down a job and keeping up with rent payments.
Once homeless, FRESH Start shelter staffer how helps others get back on their feet
After a year of struggling, she knew she couldn’t do it by herself anymore. That’s when she turned to FRESH Start again.
When you give to LCCM, you're changing lives like Mindy's and Jayvion's. Help us continue doing vital work in the community as we provide emergency services such as food and shelter, as well as guidance, support and stability to adults and children in Lebanon County. We do this always in Christ's name.
“I was out of my addiction. I wasn’t getting high anymore,” she said. “This time around my son was over a year old. It was time to get myself together for my son’s sake. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my son.”
Mindy says she grew up in foster care, group homes and spent time in residential treatment centers for youth.
“I grew up in the system,” she said. “I got taken away from my parents when I was little and I didn’t want my son to go through that. I don’t want what I went through to affect my son.”
Being homeless is stressful, she said, but as a single mother, she lived with the nagging thought that she could somehow lose Jayvion because of it.
“My biggest fear was not finding me and my son a place to live,” she said. “My biggest fear was my son getting taken away. That was my biggest fear. What if I don’t find a place?”
When Mindy and Jayvion returned to FRESH Start, it wasn’t without some bumps.
“I had my rounds with staff and difficulties, but at the end of the day, they saw the improvement I was making, taking care of my child, not doing drugs, looking for a job,” she said. “I got my child daycare. On top of that before I came back, I got accepted for Section 8 housing, but the COVID-19 situation meant I had to wait a while to try to find a place because it wasn't’ getting anywhere.”
Due to COVID-19, Mindy’s stay at FRESH Start lasted 7 months, but it may have been a blessing in disguise.
The staff at FRESH Start played a huge role in her life by offering accountability, stability and emotional support as she learned new skills in how to make it on her own.
“I really didn’t have a support system growing up, so having that here was very, very special to me,” she said. “They showed me how to apply for (day care), they taught me how to be independent and how to do things on my own. They taught me computer skills because I had to look up jobs and apartments...they taught me food shopping. I had to do all that on my own. They taught me how to save money. You have to put your money to good use when you’re on your own.”
Mindy wants to build on her independence and has a dream going to college and earning a degree in business to open her own clothing store one day. She has a dream for her son, too.
“I want him to grow up happy, grow up healthy and grow up to get an education,” she said. “I want him to be way better than I was.”