Childhood homelessness is a traumatic experience. It can impact healthy development and have lasting effects into adulthood. Genae, a mother in our program, is working to break the generational cycle of trauma so she and her son Damani can thrive.
Growing up with an unstable childhood herself, Genae was separated from her single mom and raised by relatives in a space that barely fit a bed. Running with the ‘wrong crowd’, Genae became pregnant at 17 and dropped out of school to live with her soon-to-be-born son’s father. During the stress of this experience, her partner became regularly violent. Their relationship issues escalated in a fight that landed Genae at the bottom of his steps with a shattered knee and broken wrist.
“I barely got away that night. I vowed I would never go back.”
Moving into a domestic violence shelter, Genae’s emotional and physical stress took a toll on her, pushing her into early labor. Scared, hurt, and alone, she welcomed her son Damani into the world without a safety net to fall back on or resources to adequately care for her premature newborn.
When her case manager connected her to Horizons, everything changed.
Damani joined Horizons’ program developmentally behind, but with each day, he’s been reaching important milestones. Under the guidance of our specially trained teachers, he’s steadily catching up with his peers. He’s flourishing socially, his vocabulary is expanding, and his confidence is growing as he connects with classmates in class, the library, the STEM lab, and on the playground.
While her ‘little man in the making’ is at school, Genae’s been working with her Family Advocate on how to handle life’s challenges. From connecting her to food resources to helping her define a career path, Genae is working toward building a sustainable life for her and her son. Knowing how critical these early years are for Damani, she’s seeing firsthand the impacts the early education program is having on her son. She too has admitted to learning some life lessons along the way.
“The team at Horizons has helped me to raise my standards and become the best woman and mother I know I can be, so I can create a better future for myself and my family.”
Genae and Damani’s story of resilience is one of many we see at Horizons. Through our work, we’re helping moms like Genae find a path forward despite life’s challenges. We’re providing an enriching curriculum and trauma-informed care to students like Damani so they don’t begin school behind their peers. And our work extends beyond Boston to shelters throughout the state where we host play sessions with caring, trained volunteers.