“Oh, please tell people my real name; no need to make up one: I am a living, walking testimony that if it wasn’t for Good Counsel, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Now, I know my worth.” (Zahirah, mom living at Good Counsel-Riverside)
Zahirah was on the street, having gone down the blackhole of drugs and homelessness. She had 3 kids (now 4 with the birth of Aniyah) and they all lived with the children’s father in his mother’s home. But, when she died, the house was boarded up and they moved from place to place. Desperately trying to hold onto the children’s father, she chased after him, and left the children with her mother. She was physically and emotionally abused by him, and ultimately ended up on the street, alone.
She got seriously into drugs, almost losing her life because of it. She did not care how she looked, didn’t take care of herself hygienically or any other way. She became very skinny because of her drug dependence. “But,” she says, “I wasn't able to ignore my real responsibilities toward my children.” On the street, she suffered molestation, including people stealing from her, and worried about things that she now says were not important.
During that miserable period, though, she knew she was better than that; she knew that having drugs was not worth all the misery it brought.
So, one day hitting rock bottom, she got her phone and searched on Google for Mommy and Me programs – and found Good Counsel. Zahirah said the very first person she spoke to (Intake) gave her a sense of something new – Hope. She said, “My whole life changed, finding Good Counsel. My vision of myself changed. I started gaining weight. I found people – Miss Dominique and Miss Anissa - who understood the difficulties I was going through and encouraged me to overcome them; they stayed with me every step of the way.”
“I started gaining weight, got a job and my whole outlook began to slowly change. I began to believe that I could really accomplish things, even be able to take care of my children.”
At one point “I was juggling two jobs – at the ShakeShack, and at Cooper Hospital, working as a Hospitality Associate. I left the Shake Shack at the end of July, and am working full time at Cooper. I’m making$18 an hour! I want to become a Phlebotomy Technician.”
With Miss Dominique’s help, Zahirah found a great apartment for her and her four children and plans to move everyone in at the end of August. Staff brought Zahirah furniture shopping, looking for a bedroom set and dining room table and chairs. Zahirah says, “I’m so excited and happy. I know I can support my children, give them a decent home, and that is Huge. I’m so grateful to Good Counsel.”
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