Solutions, Not Words

Dan Gregory December 19, 2017

“If this doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.”

I’ve said this to a few families in Beacon’s Families Moving Forward program over the years. Recently, though, I felt I was just saying it to make myself feel better when I did not know what else to say to a mother in our program. For her, there was one difficult challenge after another.

Josielyn arrived at Families Moving Forward with her three daughters and her granddaughter. She told us that Families Moving Forward was the only shelter that would take her and her oldest daughter with her child as a single family. Josielyn had just lost her father, her brother was sick, and it had been about two years since she left her abusive ex-husband. I was a little surprised by the motivation and positivity she showed as she tried to give her family stability. Every day she looked for work. She made sure her granddaughter was happy, allowing her to watch the movie Trolls non-stop. She encouraged her oldest daughter to go back to school for her high school diploma. 

And, then, things got harder. Josielyn’s brother died. She was diagnosed with diabetes. Her older sister became ill. She didn’t get the job she was waiting for which meant her income didn’t go up and she had fewer options for a home.

She (Josielyn) is a strong woman. I am proud of her for holding onto her internal strength for the betterment of her children and herself. 

 I saw Josielyn fight to stay strong. She was happy for her oldest daughter when she found a place to live with her daughter, but I could see it was getting tough for Josielyn.  She would smile when her daughters went off to school and then come in my office and cry. She’d ask, “What am I going to do? How do I take care of my babies?”

I had no words to offer her. I thought about saying, “You will get through this. You are strong.” But it didn’t seem like that was enough for her right now. She needed solutions, not words. 

Finally, Josielyn had an opportunity for a home in one of St. Stephen’s programs. There were a number of hoops to jump through. Josielyn did the paperwork, turned in the required documents, and told her story again. She endured multiple delays to her move in date. She worried it would all fall through.

But, on November 30, Josielyn was given the keys to her new home. She was overjoyed. What a blessing! Now she will be able to grieve properly for her father and brother, take care of her children, and secure a job.

I continue to admire the strength and the courage Josielyn showed throughout the time she was homeless. She is a strong woman. I am proud of her for holding onto her internal strength for the betterment of her children and herself.