Jennifer, 38, grew up in the Baltimore foster care system. For the last twenty years, she has been experiencing homelessness. It seemed that every time she got into a stable living situation, the bottom would fall out and she would be homeless again. This cycle kept repeating over and over again.
But Jennifer never stopped trying. She completed a culinary arts degree, got a job and she was able to rent a room. She even became a speaker with the National Coalition for the Homeless. Her advocacy skills were beginning to emerge. But then the building where she was living was sold and she lost her housing again.
Jennifer moved to Washington, DC, and she experienced homelessness here too. She was at the library researching social service agencies when she discovered Miriam’s Kitchen. Jennifer initially came for the great meals, but she also got help with ID, clothing and referrals. Each time she lost her housing, Jennifer would return to Miriam’s for support. She couldn’t provide a stable home for her three children and they were placed in foster care. MK’s Studio program became an essential outlet as she processed this trauma, allowing her to maintain a relationship with her children, even as they were eventually adopted.
Finally, Jennifer was matched with a permanent supportive housing program and she’s been stably housed for the last four years. She is thriving in this situation.
Now she is an active member of the People For Fairness Coalition. MK staff note that Jennifer has a gift for networking with other people experiencing homelessness and getting them involved with advocacy. She says, “I don’t just want to experience change in my life, I want to help other people experience change in theirs.”