At our recent Ball for Life on Friday, May 8th, a mom from our Bronx Home courageously shared her story with a roomful of people. She spoke from the heart about what Good Counsel has done for her. Jasmain received a standing ovation. In case you missed it, here is Jasmain’s speech. Her words exemplify why we do what we do and why we can never say no when a woman in need calls.
Good evening everyone, my name is Jasmain Riley and I am here to share my life at Good Counsel. Well, how I came to Good Counsel…
I was the type of girl who never stayed at one place for too long. I loved being out of the house and showing off. As a young girl growing up in New Jersey, it was all about your appearance. If your hair, clothes, and nails were not done, then you were not even considered. Sadly, those were the things that were most important to me and in order to get them I had developed a strategy. Most kids can ask their mommy or daddy for anything, but my mom and dad, who were really my aunts and cousin, couldn’t always provide for me. So, rather than being able to just be a teenager, I had to grow up quick and learn how to get and do things for myself.
Unfortunately, growing up quickly did not mean I was maturing because I still had a child-like mentality. I lost everything, including my mind at times, and it caused me to become homeless. Sadly, like a child would think, my thoughts were that I was too good to be in a shelter. I would rather hustle and do whatever I had to do before I would go into a shelter.
I realized that I had hit rock bottom and was determined to get back up. I stayed focused on my hustle and as soon as I got my mind back on the track and was doing better, I became very sick. My back became so tight that I couldn’t move, and then I fainted. I went to the hospital and heard the most life changing news ever on December 25th. “Well, your test came back positive and you’re 3 weeks pregnant.” Merry Christmas to me.
Like any mother to be, I had to secure a safe home for myself and my unborn child. Sleeping at a friend’s house, on their couch for a few days and then moving to the next friend’s couch, would not work anymore. So, I pushed my pride aside, humbled myself, and went to my aunt’s house. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough room for me. I then swallowed an even bigger pill and asked my mom if I could live with her and she told me no and to look into finding a shelter. That’s when I sat back and said, “I’m going to do this for my baby because I will die trying before I watch my child repeat a fool’s lesson.” I closed my eyes and spoke to God “Lord, I’ve been drunk off of stupidity and I need you to take the wheel and steer me in the direction of righteousness.” I then took my mother’s advice and began my search.
I went online and typed in “shelter for homeless, pregnant women” hoping to find a nice safe place where I can rest my head and begin my life as a mother to be. With every number I called I was told that the houses were full, or there wasn’t an empty bed, or that I would be placed on a waiting list. The friend I was staying with at the time gave me until Monday to sleep on her couch. I had less than a week to figure out where I was going to sleep next. Then, finally, my prayer was answered. My phone went off and it was Good Counsel Homes calling to say that there was a space available for me on Friday at 4:00 pm.
This evening, I am sharing my journey with you because, for the past 15 years, I have lived my life as a child. I neglected my education, my chances of beginning a career, my prenatal care, and my health even though I knew I had sickle cell disease. I only focused on the hustle. It’s sad but true. It is my truth and I can only talk about it now because I know that it’s my past and I have learned from it. I have grown into a responsible adult and that growth began with Good Counsel opening their doors to me and my baby. I have only been a resident for two months now, and I can honestly say I have not stopped receiving blessings since I’ve walked through the doors of the Bronx House. I started my prenatal care, enrolled in GED classes, and I was able to gain employment at Jacob Javits Center as an event cashier. And, now that I have a permanent address, I can apply for medical coverage and begin taking better care of my health.
I wake up and thank God every day that I didn’t have to move into a shelter. He placed me in a home. I’m in a nice religious house where I can become closer to God. I have my own room, a kitchen where I can cook, a Case Manager to help me, a House Manager to guide me, and house staff to assist me. To me Good Counsel is not a shelter, it’s a maternity home that God knew I needed, to be able to turn my life around and begin my future with my baby.
For more information about Good Counsel, please bookmark our website at www.goodcounselhomes.org.