At only 28, Jenny Johnson has experienced more adversity than many people twice her age. As the mother of two young sons and a surrogate mom to her teenage siblings, Jenny has always worked hard to hold her family together.
It’s a lesson she learned from her grandmother, who singlehandedly raised Jenny and her younger brother and sister, Kelvin and Ashley. Sadly, her grandmother passed away when Jenny was only 18, leaving her with sole responsibility for raising the children.
“After our grandmother died, we went to live with an aunt who really didn’t want us,” Jenny said. “As soon as I was able, I found a job and a place to live and brought Ashley and Kelvin to live with me. I knew we had to stay together.”
Though things were never easy, the family managed to get by on Jenny’s grocery store wages and help from relatives. But when family support dwindled last year, she was no longer able to pay the rent.
Facing homelessness, Jenny called United Way 2-1-1 where she learned that she was eligible to receive temporary rent and utility assistance. Determined to help the family get back on their feet, case managers helped them find a better place to live and even coached Ashley on how to fill out college applications.
First in Family to Attend College
Thanks to a recent job promotion and timely help from United Way, Jenny is doing much better. Best of all, Ashley who is now attending Florida A&M University, recently become the first in the family to attend college, which is a source of great pride for all of them.
Though Jenny knows her struggles are far from over, she is proud of her family and grateful for United Way’s help in getting through a difficult time. “I’m only 28, but I’ve struggled for so long, sometimes I feel like an old lady,” she said. “United Way really, really helped. Without them, we’d probably be homeless.”
How You Can Help Others
With United Way’s 2011-12 campaign underway, your support is critically needed to help thousands of local families like Jenny’s who are struggling to avoid hunger, homelessness and other desperate circumstances.
If your company would like to run a workplace campaign, please contact Robert Haight, United Way Senior Vice President of Resource Development, at (407) 835-0918 or e-mail Robert.Haight@hfuw.org. To make an immediate donation, click here.