This past week at Hillcrest Hope, this family received an incredible vehicle due to the generosity of a couple who believe in the mission of transformation for families in Clay County. For Kim, raising three children on her own, this vehicle is a symbol of stability, achievement, and hope. Yet, this story, like all of those at Hillcrest Hope, began some time ago in a place of fear, hurt, and brokenness. This is Kim's story of hope.
Kim’s struggle reaches back to when her marriage began to crumble. She was in an abusive marriage that was ending, and badly. She had learned about the unhealthy choices her brother had been making and allowed his three children to come and stay with her. As her eyes opened to the terrible things the children had been exposed to, despite her own deteriorating home life, Kim began to fight for custody of her nephews and niece. “It was a terribly hard decision to make, taking my brother to court and knowing that it would ruin family relationships,” Kim speaks with sadness. “I remember saying, ‘I don’t want to be a single mother raising three more babies.” Kim had raised her own children and they were all living on their own at that time.
Kim was granted temporary custody of the children just as her marriage ended. It was then that she learned of all the abuse the children had been suffering. At this time in her life, she was also starting a new career and starting life over without a spouse. “I was terrified,” Kim shares. “I struggled but kept my head above water for the first two years. I was then in a car accident, causing financial distress, and we moved into a rough area.” Kim admits that while she was not happy with where they were in location, she kept reminding herself that her family was fed, housed, and loved.
They survived this way for another year. Feeling the pressures of money, stress, and single parenthood, Kim made the decision to take up a family friend’s offer to move in with them. This lasted a week and they found themselves without stable housing and even fewer places to turn. While Kim had thought she was desperate before, the unraveling of everything around her is what caused her to want to give in, to give up.
With job loss, their only form of transportation disappeared, and Kim began to believe that she may not be the right provider for the children. In humiliation, she reached out to her parents, who generously and surprisingly made room for this family of four in their two-bedroom house. The encouragement that came at that point was a life-saver. A job was found, a vehicle was within reach, and the kids were starting to feel safe and stable. While Kim knew they could not stay with family forever, she feared the next step.
“It was then that my mom told me about Hillcrest Hope, and I remember the fear is making another change for us in such a short time,” Kim recalls. “It took me two weeks just to fill out the application because of my hesitation. I didn’t tell the kids until I got the phone call about the interview. And even then, I was terrified because I was sure I would not be accepted.” Kim had convinced herself that she “wasn’t really homeless” and that her story was too much like so many others asking for help. It was only when she was welcomed into the program that she began to believe that her story did matter, along with the future she would make from it.
Since coming to Hillcrest Hope, Kim and her family have learned and grown. They have learned more than finances; they have learned about how to work as a family. They have grown closer and stronger together. Kim explains that it feels as though they are “finally coming out of the dark,” and that there is light ahead. They have learned to think long-term, realizing that with setting goals and working toward them, anything is possible.
“I believe that when we leave Hillcrest Hope, that we will be confident knowing that if there are bumps, we can withstand and stay on course. I want to always be a positive role model for these children, now my children, and Hillcrest Hope has had an incredible influence on my ability to be that for my children. I have learned so much, yet there is so much more to learn-as a parent and as a person. I am not broken anymore. I have ways in which I am still healing but I now know that I can survive and even learn to thrive. I am now stronger and do not fear the future for myself or my children anymore.”