“From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, and the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one. It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.” – Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

My name is Je’Kiya.   I am 24 years old and a mother of two gorgeous little girls. That quote was me before coming to the welcoming arms of The Haven of Grace.  I felt so vulnerable, I did not want to be seen as a statistic or enforce a stereotype of being a young black mother pregnant and homeless because of a poor decision. I feared being looked down upon and judged negatively.  I had some pretty negative expectations because I had already stayed in a more traditional homeless shelter for 3 months while pregnant with my first daughter, Zuri.  This was a very terrible experience for me.  Although I’m very humbled and thankful to have had a place to stay during those 3 months, I did not want to repeat that experience.  I had told myself that once I left and got my first apartment, I never wanted to go back from where I came from.

The first day I walked into The Haven, I was in disbelief.  I realized that yes I’m back in a homeless shelter, but I have not gone back to where I’ve come from. The Haven of Grace is a stepping-stone and a solid foundation to start over again and do things right this time.  I soon learned that The Haven of Grace is truly a place of grace.  No one judges you here; you are made to feel comfortable and encouraged to go forth and accomplish greatness. The Haven of Grace has helped me to understand that where you are does not define you and your journey.  Being at The Haven of Grace, I have gained further knowledge of self and the true meaning of unconditional love.  The goals I have focused on while staying here are finishing my higher education, obtaining stable housing, and obtaining employment.  I have completed my last semester of community college and am now transferring to university to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology.

The Haven helps you to stay empowered, and proactive. Residents are required to have a job or go to school, so this has definitely helped me to stay on track with my educational goals. The Haven has given me multiple employment resources and information on various different job positions.  I am happy to also say that my goal is to transition soon to The Quad [The Haven’s transitional apartments].  I believe that The Quad would be a great place for me and my daughters to learn how to fly before being released from our nest. When I leave The Quad in two years, I will have attained my Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology, a good credit score, and money saved in my bank account. I will be able to accomplish all of this on my own but also with the help and assistance of The Haven of Grace.  The Quad will be a great foundation for me and my children. I am very excited to transition all in divine timing.

Je’Kiya, Zuri & Zara

May 2019