My name is Jenna Tennyson. On January 16, 2015, my family and I were jumped and robbed by our landlord and his friends. This was the day we fell into what I like to call the homeless hole. I call it this because, in reality, thatʼs really what it is like. Homelessness is easy to fall into, but what you donʼt realize is how hard it is to claw your way out.
When a lot of people think of homelessness, they envision a man on the sidewalk possibly holding a sign, and associate many negative denotations with him. They assume him to be a drunk or drug addict, someone who has made more bad decisions than good ones. But a lot of times, what you donʼt see is the homeless family. The couple that is trying their best to provide the most normal life for their child(ren)…while also trying to appear normal to the rest of the world. Thatʼs where my family placed.
Once we became homeless, we began the cycle of staying in motels for as long as we could. Youʼd be surprised how expensive keeping that up is. To save money, we attempted different programs fitted for homeless families and to make a long story short, they werenʼt right for us. We were referred to Family Promise, where we thought weʼd find just another program that robbed more of our dignity than when we started, but we were so wrong. The staff at Family Promise did make an effort to understand who we were as people while tackling every lead for housing. But honestly, thatʼs what you expect when you walk in. What you donʼt realize is how far past the brochure they go.
One of the gifts that my family received from Family Promise was the circle of a fellowship from the host churches. We felt so accepted and truly cared for by every single one of the congregations. We were treated with respect and dignity from the first day that we arrived at Family Promise, and we still feel that same respect and dignity today. I was particularly blown away by how many individuals at every single church cared enough to sit and hold a conversation with Drew and me. They cared not only about our story but also our background (two very different concepts). They cared about our opinions and strategies, about our goals and dreams beyond finding permanent housing. It was uplifting and refreshing to remember those things…theyʼre easy to forget about when struggling for the basics. It was nice to know others believed in us enough to assume weʼd make it, and that they wondered where we would go from there.So where did we go from there, you ask?
Up…a steady incline UP. Through the program, we saw a difference between the people at the congregations and the array of other people weʼd come across. We werenʼt hard pressed to attend church, but we saw and felt a spiritual gentleness that the masses lack. We started attending church regularly, and we have grown so close as a family and to God. He has become the foundation of our home and the center of our lives. We are blessed to live close by in a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment (woo!!). We are also both employed and love our jobs. We now take nothing for granted, and we are SO blessed. We definitely wouldnʼt be here without God, Family Promise, and the congregations.