This year, Family Promise of Essex County has seen an increase in the number of families seeking support due to high unemployment and child care loss. Shakira was one of those families. This is Shakira’s story…
“Living without my children for one month was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I have never been away from my kids for more than two days.”
Shakira was pregnant with twins when rats in her apartment made it uninhabitable. She and her two children, ages nine and four, were forced to leave immediately. She moved in with her sister and three nieces, but with too many people in the apartment, it was a violation of the lease and landlord evicted her. Around the same time, Shakira suffered a devastating loss when one of her twin babies didn’t survive child birth. Shakira now found herself in a traumatic and impossible situation- with no school or child care due to Covid-19 restrictions, Shakira had no choice but to send her three kids, including her baby, to live with her mom in South Carolina. During this time, she worked 3 jobs and 16+ hour days, determined to raise the funds necessary to get her and her children a place to call home.
When Shakira called Family Promise of Essex County seeking support, Belinda answered the phone. Shakira remembers, “Belinda was easy to talk to, caring and so helpful. Just like talking to a friend”. Belinda checked in with Shakira regularly and coincidentally called at the same moment Shakira was viewing a new 2 bedroom apartment. Shakira determined that she could make this apartment work with her budget. She just need assistance from FPE with security deposit and necessities to set it up as a home.
Shakira suffered a lot of loss in 2020 and through all her hardships, she didn’t have a chance to grieve and heal. Now with a new, clean home, Shakira is looking forward to healing in 2021. “I can’t even put into words how much I appreciate finding this caring and warm program. FPE helped me get set up in my new apartment with financial assistance, new furniture, toys for kids, and food gift cards.”
One thing her kids are most excited for in their new home; now Shakira’s nine year old daughter with have her own room and a place to invite friends over to play!