The word “home” evokes feelings of safety, comfort, and welcome. Regardless of what life throws at you or the difficulties you are facing, home is a space to rest, recalibrate, and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. For a person experiencing homelessness, losing the place they call home is not only a loss of shelter. It is a loss of that stable foundation when they need it most to overcome the setbacks they are facing.
The circumstances that might lead to homelessness can include loss of income or transportation, a falling out with loved ones, or an abrupt economic downturn. For Brandon and Jennifer, it was all of these things.
Their story together began when Brandon moved to Oklahoma from Philadelphia.
“I happened to run into this beautiful lady,” Brandon recalls. “We connected, things were great and we got together. We were living a normal life.”
But before long, the business that Brandon ran took a downturn and their income began to dwindle. Their family had grown to include their two young children, and they decided to temporarily move in with Jennifer’s mother until they could get back on their feet. However, the living situation soon became tense as conflict with her mother began to simmer.
“She made it extremely uncomfortable to stay there. We were clashing about the kids. I didn’t want that around my children.”
Her mother grew more controlling, and soon Jennifer’s concerns were confirmed when she discovered her wallet, ID, and cards were missing, and then overheard her mother threatening to take their children away. Brandon and Jennifer quickly made the decision to leave immediately. The safe space they had hoped to rebuild from was gone. Once again, they had lost stability and were forced to start over.
Unfortunately, in the months ahead more setbacks lay in store for the young family. After traveling to Florida, they lost their car in an accident, and the shelters in the area were full. They soon found themselves living out of a storage unit. Throughout this time, Brandon was doing what he could to but they were eventually forced to pawn the last of their belongings to purchase a tent.
“It was just not getting any better. I had to pawn my wedding ring,” says Brandon.
Space finally opened up in a shelter, and after saving up a little money, they decided to make the journey home to Oklahoma to start over. But shortly after arriving, hardship struck again when they were abruptly forced to move out of the hotel they were living in after it sustained heavy damage.
“It was bad. It was the worst possible position,” says Brandon.
It was at that point that they found City Rescue Mission.
“I was able to breathe again. Everything had just been boom, boom, boom running into us. Here, we don’t have to worry about meals or where we’re going to sleep. I was able to assess where we were, to plan for whats next,” says Brandon.
For Jennifer, it meant finally finding the support that was absent from her own family. “It was that family feeling. When you need help, nobody’s judging what you’ve been through. It’s like ‘We’re going to make sure that you get what you need to be able to get back to life again.”
Surrounded by safety and stability at City Rescue Mission, Brandon and Jennifer feel like a burden has been lifted. After years of looking for firm footing, the family has found a place to call home during this season as they begin to rebuild. Brandon has found work and the whole family is looking forward to a better future.
“[The people here] are protecting so many from pain and hurt and death even,” says Jennifer. “They keep people safe and they keep families together. They’re helping peo-ple start their lives. Whether it’s your second chance or third chance, when you come here, you get to start your life again.”