Jayuanna is the mother of 2 beautiful little girls, Jiya and Jade. “I’m raising them to be strong-minded individuals,” she shared with a proud smile. A 6th grade teacher in Mattapan, Jayuanna teaches young minds who challenge her to be the best version of herself and hopes to inspire them to reach for greatness.
“My heart is where the children are and for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to find ways to improve the community around me. But I wasn’t always in a position to be pouring into the lives of others – just a couple of years ago I was working hard to overcome my own challenges.”
Jayuanna became pregnant with her first child Jiya when she was in college working to get her Bachelor’s degree.
“I walked across that stage degree in one hand, baby in the other, and I felt like nothing could ever stop me. Until one day I heard a knock on the door and a constable was standing there telling my family that we had three days to leave the home I grew up in.”
Jayuanna was living with her daughter’s father and their 18 month old at the time, and was pregnant with their second child. Her mother and uncle also lived there alongside her three siblings who were all working on attaining college degrees. After the eviction, the family was forced onto the streets with nowhere to go and no extended family to turn to. As money started to dwindle, the family went from hotels, to motels, to ultimately Jayuanna having to separate from them and live in her car with Jiya. The girls’ father was not in a better financial position to help so they made the choice to separate. The trauma of this experience compounded with what happened next in Jayuanna’s situation.
“I was scared of what would happen to my daughter if I got caught sleeping in my car. I soon went into labor and when I got out of the hospital, a week later my baby Jade stopped breathing and I had to rush back.”
While under duress, the hospital helped her find a temporary shelter an hour and a half out of Boston away from her loved ones. Her case worker sprung into action to help her find childcare.
“My number one goal was to get a job. I knew this couldn’t be a permanent situation for me and the future of my children depended on it.”
Horizons for Homeless Children came into the picture and eventually both daughters were placed in the care of Horizons’ early educators while Jayuanna connected with a dedicated Family Advocate. Her goal of getting a job before her, Jayuanna expressed her fears as a young mom having been out of work for some time after getting her degree – would anyone employ her? She was afraid to face rejection and hesitant to apply as a substitute teacher. Her Family Advocate coached her into applying, helping her fill out the application and push past her fears to achieve her goal. Now she works full time as a teacher, having taken those steps in the early stages of her career to get back into the workforce and impact students lives with her teaching skills and bright personality.
While Jayuanna pursued her career aspirations, her children thrived at Horizons.
“My girls Jiya and Jade learned Spanish, they learned class etiquette, they learned how to regulate their emotions, and I learned how to be a gentle parent. Horizons offered me a safe space to grow and heal from the trauma I’ve experienced. They helped me find mental health support by getting me into therapy, even letting me vent to them about my struggles, offering me a shoulder to cry on (and trust me I cried a lot)! Although this one seems like a no brainer, Horizons even helped me get access to health care and attain a primary care physician. I was offered (and took full advantage of) the parenting classes. They provided myself and other parents with clothing, diapers, and food – all things that were costly but very much needed.”
Beyond supplies and high quality early education, Horizons provided Jayuanna the coaching she needed to get her life where she wanted it to be.
“Horizons helped me accomplish goals, kept me on track with biweekly check-ins, and offered advice on how I can accomplish everything I wanted to do. They broke my goals into subcategories -long-term, short-term, and in-the-now. Transportation was one area where I needed to make progress. I needed it to go to work, my car was in terrible condition, but first I needed money to pay the deductible to get my car fixed. Longer term, I needed a more reliable car, with better mileage without breaking down. I had other goals in housing, fixing my credit score, and education. It wasn’t just my professional and personal aspirations that benefited from Horizons, but parenting skills improved as well. Because of the support I received at Horizons, I’m now a better parent. For example, at my house we have a cool down corner which consists of a tent, soothing light, books, timer – it’s a safe space where we can talk about how we feel.”
“I’m going to give my daughters a better shot at becoming successful so that they don’t end up where I’ve been. Horizons has helped me build life skills and financial skills. As a result, I’ve been putting money away long term, building my savings account and investing in my girls’ financial future. I want to break generational curses, and provide my children with the emotional support they need to become successful stable women. Thanks to Horizons’ parenting classes and groups, my children will be able to successfully self regulate, they now willingly come to me and let me know how they are feeling. They will grow up to be kind young girls, and they will lead a successful life. Whatever success looks like to them is a win for me.”