Encircling Families With Support

by a Host Family, Lynette Nelson, from Metro East, IL Chapter

“I was really going through it.” Four years ago, Jasma McCorkle was homeless, living in an all-women’s shelter, struggling with anxiety and depression, and feeling unable to care for her young daughter, Layla. Feeling hopeless, Jasma connected with a community agency who helped her find and secure, safe, and permanent housing. “Getting out of the shelter was really good for me and Layla, but my mind was still all over the place. I felt like I was unfit to care for my daughter and knew I needed help.” That’s when a Case Manager told Jasma about Safe Families for Children (SFFC).

Through SFFC, Jasma was connected to host family volunteers, Troy and Carrie, who provided a week-long hosting for her daughter, Layla. The family had four children who welcomed Layla like a little sister. Troy and Carrie encircled Jasma with resources throughout the hosting and helped her focus on achieving her dreams. One of Jasma’s dreams included earning her GED. The family supported Jasma with this goal and helped her get new clothing and shoes so she could attend GED courses.

A short time later, Jasma’s car began breaking down. Jasma called her SFFC Family Coach Supervisor and they sent out a certified mechanic to look at the car to advise next steps. It was determined the car was not salvageable or in safe, working condition. Determined to not let this derail her dreams for a better future, Jasma focused on providing a better life for herself and her daughter. A few days later, a partner church contacted SFFC chapter staff and shared that they had a family in their congregation who wanted to donate a car and asked if any families supported by SFFC could benefit from this gift. SFFC staff shared Jasma’s story with the pastor and they all agreed, Jasma was the one God intended to be the recipient of the car. Jasma shared, “I was in tears how God put these people in my path and chose me. There were probably other people other people who needed a car, too, and I’m so humbled because that car has been what’s helped me get to work so I can make a living to raise my daughter. I’m so humbled people
help people like that.”

A few months passed. Jasma worked as a school bus driver and Layla started elementary school. It was during this time, Jasma felt like she needed a little bit longer hosting support to fully manage and overcome her anxiety and depression for good. So, she reached out to SFFC again. This time a second host family, Rob and Pam, stepped in to care for Layla, which lasted for a month. “They were so supportive of me and welcomed Layla like she was their own. They weren’t just hosts for Layla, but are our friends and blessed us with more than just friendship. They would show up at my house surprising me and Layla with groceries, food gift cards, clothes and gifts at Christmas and our birthdays. No one has ever done that for me (or my daughter) before. They really care about me and Layla as people, not just volunteers helping.”

As Jasma’s second hosting with SFFC was ending, the staff asked if there was any additional help she needed. Jasma shared she really, really wanted to pass her GED so she could get a better job and provide a better future for her daughter. Thanks to Troy and Carrie, she had been attending a local college to take GED classes, but they weren’t helping. Every time she took the test, she failed. So, SFFC staff put a request out to see if any volunteers had the ability, interest, and time to provide GED tutoring to Jasma. That’s when Jasma met Scott and Holly. Holly tutored Jasma for over seven months until Jasma achieved her dream! “Holly didn’t give up on me. Even when I didn’t pass the test after we studied so hard, she stuck by me, encouraging me and stayed with me. She would take me out to dinner and told me to keep studying, and it worked! Our hard work paid off and I finally passed!”

After Jasma passed her GED, she enrolled in trucking school. She quickly passed and graduated from the trucking school program a few months later. Jasma got hired by a trucking company soon after and needed to start on-the-job training which was a six-week-long program out of state. This was an answer to prayer and life achievement to receive this new job opportunity, but Jasma needed somewhere safe for her daughter, Layla, to stay during the six-week training program. Confident in knowing that SFFC was the only safe Circle of Support in her life, Jasma reached out to see if hosting would be possible for Layla. Two volunteer families stepped in. Scott and Holly provided a week-long hosting for Layla so she could finish her last week of school at her school. Another host family, The Nelsons, took care of Layla for the remaining weeks. Jasma graduated from the truck training program and is working full-time, achieving her dream of providing a better life for herself and her daughter. SFFC staff and Layla’s host family celebrated this milestone achievement!

I am so thankful and grateful for SFFC. I think one of the main reasons SFFC has stayed by me for this long as I got everything together is because of my gratitude and attitude. I’ve been so determined to get better and do better. I don’t take their help for granted. I always felt safe with SFFC. Never second guessed anything or was nervous with people watching Layla. Ever since I met SFFC I felt loved. I felt cared for. I am seen. They love not just me, but my daughter. Every single volunteer and staff has loved us. That’s not something you see every day. SFFC will always have my heart.”