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What are you most proud of?

Story by Heartland Alliance August 14th, 2014

the caretaker

In 2007, Anita’s family lived in one big, happy home – grandma, grandpa, Anita, and her three daughters all under one roof. She was her grandparents’ full-time caretaker, a big job for one woman, especially with small children in the home. Just one short year later though her life took a turn, as her beloved grandma passed, with her grandpa passing shortly thereafter. Anita found herself where she never thought she’d be – facing homelessness as the family home went up for sale.

“I had nowhere to go, we were sleeping in the car. I was sending the kids to relatives’ houses to bathe,” she said of that time.


clean and safe

She saw that she had a long road ahead of her as she rebuilt the stability she once enjoyed, beginning with housing. She applied for temporary housing, hoping her number would be pulled, and that the nights her and her daughters, Journee, Janiya, and Jakai, spent in their car were numbered. She got her wish.

“I got placed into this apartment with Heartland Alliance, and I really love this program. They made sure the apartment was clean and safe, they cater to your whole family,” Anita says.



Through Heartland Alliance, Anita and her daughters received gift cards for daily essentials, as well as job leads for mom. When back-to-school time came around, Journee, Janiya, and Jakai received backpacks with new school supplies, and during the holidays, the family received armfuls of gifts. Anita didn’t just receive an apartment, she received the help that can make a house a home.

self-made royalty

Now Anita is working as an attendance clerk at a local school, and her daughters are well on their way to the successful future their mom has worked so hard to prepare them for. Janiya, entering eighth grade, is on the honor role and is a budding writer, with over 1,000 online followers. Journee, who is going into her freshman year of high school, is her class’ valedictorian and a member of the volleyball and basketball teams. In her spare time, what little of it she has, she’s designing a line of t-shirts and dancing with a local dance troupe.

“I’m most proud that I didn’t get influenced to do the wrong things,” Journee says. “I’m just focusing on maintaining my GPA. I think maybe I’ll study physical therapy. Of course I like fashion too!”

she giggles, sharing her designs for the t-shirt line she’s looking forward to starting, which she’s named Self-Made Royalty. The name is apt not only for her clothing line, but for the whole family.

that's the kind of mom i am

“I see moms all the time at my job [as an attendance clerk] that just don’t care if their kids go to school or not. I could be that mom,” Anita says of her kids. “But that’s not me. I’m most proud of my kids, Journee is valedictorian, Janiya is on the honor roll, it means I’m doing something right. My main goal is to be there for them, keep a roof over their heads, for them to be successful and go to college, and to make sure they’re well taken care of, no matter what. That’s the kind of mom I am. And I don’t know where I would be without Heartland Alliance. Because they helped make that possible for us.”

Footnote: Photography by Allyson Stewart, Story by Melissa Spear
Chicago, IL, United States
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