Families experience homelessness too...
Wayne and Jeanette experienced homelessness with seven children, but thanks to your generous support, they are now on a path toward sustainable housing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (ESV)
The year is 2015.
Wayne is a single dad with five kids—all girls. His wife left him a few years ago, and when she did, she also left the kids. “I had no one,” says Wayne. “I was on my own, just me with my five little girls.”
He lives in an apartment complex that he pays good money—$1,200—to rent. It’s the average cost of a one bedroom unit in his area. In the same complex lives Jeanette, a brunette, soft spoken gal from Commerce City.
It’s Wednesday afternoon. Wayne is walking along the paved stones toward the door of his apartment building. He glances to his left, and that's when it happens.
He sees Jeanette. “As soon as I saw her, I knew she was the one,” says Wayne. “She was beautiful, so beautiful that it took me about six months to get up the nerve to talk to her.”
Jeanette is quiet and confident. She’s also a single mom. She and her friend live near Wayne—take the grassy path a couple hundred feet then walk along the paved stones to the building that says, ‘Unit B,’ and that’s where Wayne lives.
Jeanette spends most of her days caring for her daughter and babysitting for her neighbors; one of those neighbors is Wayne. “She was babysitting for me while I was at work,” says Wayne. “Our kids became really good friends. So, when I picked them up after work, Jeanette and I would just talk—kids, life, mutual friends—we talked about stuff like that.”
They talk about other things too, things like their favorite foods, where they are from, and how long they have been living in Denver. And, when the time feels right, Wayne asks Jeanette on a date, or as he likes to say, “I invited her, her roommate and her daughter to my apartment for dinner.” Jeanette and her friend agree to attend. Wayne and his five kids, Jeanette and her daughter, and Jeanette’s roommate all sit in Wayne’s small apartment, some seated at the table, others on the floor, and they eat together.
“We had Frito salad,” says Wayne.
Many women have that moment they can look back on and say, ‘That’s when I knew he was the one.’ It’s a marvelous moment, both at the time it’s happening and looking back. Trust. Security. Commitment. Love. These are often the words used to describe such a moment. For Jeanette, that moment occurs at a pool.
“He was playing with his daughters, splashing them and tossing them in the water,” she says. “It was all laughs, everyone was just having a good time. My daughter was sitting with me, off to the side. Then, she ran over to Wayne and joined in on the fun and he just embraced her. That was so attractive to me, to see him interact with my daughter like that, and to see a man who was there with his daughters and willing to be a part of their lives.”
Eventually, Wayne and Jeanette get married, and just a few months after Wayne and the children were splashing around in the pool, Wayne, Jeanette and their kids become homeless.
“Hello, is Wayne there?” asked the voice on the other end of the phone.
“This is Wayne.”
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but as you know, work is slow right now. So, we’re going to have to let you go,” says the voice.
Wayne loses his job, and with it, the family of eight loses its home. They are forced to move out of their apartment, no longer able to afford the $1,200 monthly rent. “I was working in construction, setting up roadblocks for the road crews,” says Wayne. “But the work started to slow down, and they were forced to lay a lot of us off. When that happened, I felt worthless, like the biggest failure in the world, like I was failing my kids and my wife. I couldn’t provide a roof over our heads or food to put in our stomachs. We had nowhere to go and nothing… except each other.”
Wayne, Jeanette and their six daughters are homeless for nearly two years.
They drift from couch to couch, living with friends and relatives. “It was just hard on those people,” says Wayne.
“We’re such a big family, and after a few months, people usually got tired of us living with them. I called my mom and asked her if we could stay with her for a while. She agreed, but with one condition, that it only be for a few months because the house wasn’t big enough for everyone.”
“Denver Rescue Mission, how may I direct your call?” says our receptionist.
On the other end of the phone was Jeanette. One day, while her daughters were napping, Jeanette called us for help. Her call is transferred to the STAR Transitional Program offices. Within days, she and Wayne are sitting in front of our STAR staff, doing an intake. And three months later, Jeanette, Wayne and their daughters are living at The Crossing, enrolled in our program.
“It was a relief, a huge burden lifted off,” says Wayne. “Everyone was so nice and friendly. They explained the expectations to us—to save money and develop an emergency fund so situations like what happened never happen again. And then, they even asked us what our expectations were for them. That was huge for us because we have so many kids.”
“STAR is teaching us to develop better habits,” says Jeanette. “And they work well with kids. When the girls get home from school they go to reading and writing club in the Denver Broncos Youth Center, they get tutoring and help with their homework there.”
The center, known by the kids as 'The Bronco Room,' is part of The Crossing; it was dedicated to Denver Rescue Mission by the Denver Broncos in 2006. Since then, the space has been used to help mentor and develop children whose parents live at The Crossing.
Today, in July 2018, Wayne and Jeanette have almost reached their goal to save up $1,000 in an emergency fund. And they are well on their way to achieving their next target—renting an apartment. They are also parents of one more child, Alexcia. She’s the first biological child that they’ve had together. “She’s special to us—but all the kids are special to us—we’re a family,” says Jeanette. “I think that’s what love is all about. When you’re able to go through something that can possibly tear you apart, but you’re able to get through it, that’s love, and that’s family.”
Jeanette, Wayne and their seven daughters are now a part of our family at Denver Rescue Mission. And that family includes you, our donors. Jeanette and Wayne would not be on a path toward sustainable housing if it were not for you and your compassion.
Thank you for ensuring that families like this one have a place to call home.
Letter from the CEO
If you are like me, there is nothing more important than family—well, my relationship to God is first—but my wife, my five children and their families mean the world to me (and of course my five grandchildren!).
There is very little I would not do for my family; I love them. I cannot imagine being in a situation where I’m not able to take care of them, to help them.
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Wayne and Jeanette's story was featured in the July 2018 issue of Changing Lives titled “Boy Meets Girl: A Story About Love, Family & Homelessness.”
Also in this issue:
- 3 Opportunities to Impact Eternity Today
- Come Run With Us! RiNo 5K
- Dick Monfort, Owner/Chairman and CEO of the Colorado Rockies, on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters
- Letter from the CEO