Twenty-seven-year-old single mom Angelica doesn’t have visions of sugar plums dancing in her head this holiday season. Instead, she dreams of her four children with wide eyes and smiles on
Decorations are going up on the outside of their cottage. Her children, MiAngel (3), Raquell (5), Rakel (7), and Aire ‘Ana (11), are excited about decorating a “real” tree and each child has a Christmas wish list.
Angelica is part of the Family Care Program at Kennedy Home in Kinston. The program offers supportive cottage homes for working single mothers and their children, providing a goal-focused living environment structured to help mothers transition to a successful, independent living situation.
“My hope is for my children,” she says. “This new beginning is all about them. I’m able to slow down and spend time with them. It is a new day filled with new hope for a better future.”
Only a few months ago, life was bleak for the young family. The hard-working mom was an hourly worker. When she and her children all experienced COVID, she was unable to work for a month. Falling behind on rent, they were evicted from their home. The five were staying with a family friend. Angelica realized she needed help and a new start.
Angelica knew she couldn’t do life alone anymore. Homeless and struggling financially, she began seeking a new life for herself and her children. Learning of a job opportunity in Kinston, she and her friend drove the 35 miles from Greenville where she was born and raised.
While there, Angelica made a visit to the area’s Salvation Army office and learned about the Family Care Program. After she
returned to Greenville, she called Kennedy Home and completed an application over the phone. There was a later phone interview,
and in a few days the family had a place to live.
She and her children packed their belongings and were driven to Kennedy Home—sight unseen. She remembers being skeptical but all her fears went away as the young family rode onto the historic campus with its tree-lined drive, the cottages, and the yards where children played. “My kids saw the other children and joined them as soon as the car stopped,” she remembers. “They were all running in the yard, playing together.”
She chokes as she recounts living in their previous home. The children stayed inside most of the time. She worked nights. When she was home in the daytime and could be in the yard with them or watch them from her kitchen window, they were able to play outside. Most days they just watched television.
“I watched them running with the other children and thought they were free of fear—I was free of fear,” she says. “I breathed easier. I felt a weight lifted off me and knew my children were safe.”
Despite the desperation of working long hours and never having enough, Angelica sees now that her children suffered most from having an absent mom. She was there, but at the end of a day she
was physically and emotionally spent. “So much has changed in my life in such a short time,” she says. “I realized that I was working
so hard just to pay bills, I wasn’t able to be a mom.”
Being a part of the Family Care Program has allowed Angelica to focus on her family’s real needs. “It’s hard to be a single mom working and parenting. But here it is different. I feel I can be a part of my children’s lives. I have the time to listen to them and spend time with them on their schedule—not mine.”
She is taking business classes online and working part time. She has been able to save some money, something she was never able to do before. Recently, Angelica bought a good used car. She has begun dreaming about owning a business and buying a home one day.
Setting goals for her life has been motivating. “You start with small
goals. You reach a goal, and it feels so good. You set another goal, and another. Soon you’re realizing that your goals are turning into your dreams coming true.” Focusing less on the trials of life has renewed Angelica’s interest in her faith.
She was a part of church before her mother passed when she was only 16 years old. “Whether it was bad times or a little better times, faith has kept me
moving forward,” she says. “Now, I am able to look at my personal life and take steps to be closer to God. My children are asking questions about God. It’s hopeful.”
Angelica’s Christmas wish list? She needs a laptop and a new phone. But she says knowing her children are safe has been the best gift ever.
Note: Any gift you give between now and January 31, 2023 is matched dollar for dollar up to the challenge gift goal. Your gifts make it possible to share hope with Angelica and struggling young families like hers. Please give.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children