Kowie couldn’t imagine having to go into a shelter. After she and her husband Rashawn lost their jobs in Alabama they moved to NJ where they had grown up. The plan was to stay in a hotel while they looked for jobs. But things took longer than expected and they ran out of money. It was her husband’s mother who convinced them to call FPE. Kowie says it was the best decision she ever made. It was also the hardest decision.
Mentally, Kowie says she wasn’t ready to go into a shelter. Fear and pride were in the way. She kept thinking people like them didn’t become homeless. After all, they had had a new car and a nice home in Alabama. And she was worried about her 3- and 6-year old boys. What would they think? Well, it turns out they were too young to notice. Kowie and husband Rashawn simply told them they were staying at the congregations while their apartment was getting ready and that was good enough for them.
Still Kowie cried all the time. But she credits the volunteers for helping simply by listening to her. She considers Brenda Myrick, FPE Director of Social Services and Housing, to be her mentor, the one who gave her hope and encouraged her not to give up. That propelled Kowie and Rashawn to become single-minded about changing their situation. And it worked, because within 30 days both parents found jobs in food service and moved to a new apartment. FPE was able to help them with a security deposit, rent, food, clothing, and furniture. According to Kowie, “If you do what you’re supposed to do, the program is great. We didn’t feel homeless.”
Like any parent, Kowie has dreams. What she hopes for is to have the same address for the next ten years. Along the way, she also wants to enjoy life and keep her children happy.