by DJ Josso-Martin
Jessica’s long journey as an independent homeless woman began approximately eight years ago upon the death of her mother. At only eighteen years old, Jessica found herself alone and with nowhere to live. Her only option was to move to Virginia, where she was able to stay with a friend. After six months of house hopping in an unfamiliar area, Jessica heard of Covenant House, a shelter in Washington DC for homeless youth. She took her one year old son and left Virginia.
Even with the help and resources she was receiving from Covenant House, Jessica found it exceedingly difficult to survive in Washington, DC. Pregnant again, she picked up her bags and left after another difficult year. Because she had an aunt in Newark who said she would help her out, she moved to New Jersey.
Finding it difficult to find a job at seven and a half months pregnant, Jessica made the decision to attend Drake College of Business. Here she attended programs in Dental Assisting and Microsoft Office 2007.
Things were going well until her newborn and youngest son got sick. He was hospitalized with bronchiolitis. He spent three weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and two additional weeks in a standard hospital room. With unemployment pay, Jessica found herself homeless again, this time with her two sons.
Having been born and raised in Trenton, she contacted her aunt who lived in the area to try to find a place to stay. After staying there for a short while, she went to HomeFront. HomeFront was able to help her to get back on her feet. She now has a three bedroom house which she has been living in for a year, and she plans to move to another house in the next few months (after the lease on her current house expires) so that she can live closer to her son’s school. She is also currently seeking full-time employment.
Since she arrived at HomeFront, Jessica has been involved in the Art Space program. Art Space has taught her to use art, in the form of painting and poetry, as a way to express herself.
She recalls writing her first poem as an adult while waiting for the bus one day. She carries this meaningful verse with her wherever she goes, reciting it by heart:
“The world cannot define her words her inner beauty projecting outward her face with the likeness of a goddess her body built like a stallion the mother, the sister, the daughter, the sun, the earth Mother Nature at her best.”
Jessica aspires to become a published poet. She also hopes to write and publish an autobiographic account telling her life story. “I want the book to be me uncut,” Jessica states. She wants to do this, not only to express herself, but also to be a resource for others who may be enduring similar circumstances to those which she has gone through in the past.
When asked to provide words of wisdom for someone in a similar situation, Jessica responded saying “to not lose hope. Think of everything as a season, as a reason. I’m not perfect, but I am somewhat spiritual. And I do honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Your life is how it is meant to be, you just have to take every day one moment at a time. Nobody is promised tomorrow. Most importantly, just keep going. Everybody has a day when they just want to sit around a do nothing, but tomorrow get up and do something! Don’t sink into your depression. It’s never the end until it’s the end. Finally, never keep your mouth shut, ever. If you need it ask. I am always the first to say ‘I’m independent; I don’t need anybody.’ But people need people.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.