Life with four sons is busy and no one can tell you better than Jeanine. A single mom who worked full time as a photographer for a company that took school photos, Jeanine was doing her best. School-wise, her boys were in three different places and each day she got them where they needed to be. Yes, life was busy, but manageable. However, everything suddenly turned upside down when her employer was bought out and the new company didn’t rehire her. Bills piled up and it wasn’t long until she was unable to pay her rent.
That’s what brought her to FPE five years ago. Jeanine’s oldest was in 8th grade at the time and being homeless was toughest for him. As an active boy, all Deven wanted to do was to go out and play with his friends. Having to live in a shelter made him feel like he had lost his freedom. He didn’t understand why this ordeal was happening to him. Thankfully, Jeanine was able to save money and find work in retail while they were in the shelter. Three months later, the family left the shelter for a new home.
Jeanine is grateful to be in her own apartment but life hasn’t been smooth going. Paying the bills is still a struggle along with finding jobs that work for her schedule. She no longer has a car and still hasn’t been able to find employment as a photographer. Then, last year, she came close to losing her apartment again. Wanting to avoid eviction, she turned to FPE for a second time and was able to get rental assistance, thanks to a government contract that FPE secured for homelessness prevention.
These ups and downs are enough to make one give up, but Jeanine says it’s her children who keep her going. She keeps a strict household, something she learned from her father before he left when she was 12. And she looks for opportunities that will keep her children on a straight path. In fact, her youngest son Derrick is in the midst of a two-week camp at Philip’s Academy, sponsored by a generous FPE donor.
As for Deven, he had to grow up quickly by helping Jeanine care for the younger boys. She recounts how for a time he was responsible for picking up Derrick from preschool and bringing him to sports practice until she got home from work. Learning responsibility early, perhaps, positioned him for academic success as he’s starting his freshman year at St. Peter’s University with plans to major in biochemistry.
When asked what FPE means to her, Jeanine describes how the organization has been a refuge and a source of hope. Through tears that speak to the fierce love she has for her boys amidst life’s difficulties, she states that her goal is to maintain healthy and beautiful lives for her children.