Trying to Keep the Hope Going

With Jamillah’s warm smile and easy laugh, it feels as if you have known her for a long time. The conversation flows easily – about her niece’s favorite foods, caring for an ill parent and when it comes to talk of family and responsibility – so do the tears.

“We’re in the midst of some chaos but I told myself I’m not going to panic.”

Jamillah works in construction, operating heavy machinery, but a cascading series of setbacks over the last three years – a car accident that left her in a body cast for weeks, traveling back and forth to Georgia to help take care of her ailing father and then an apartment fire, have all taken their toll.

After the fire, she was able to reconnect with one of her best friends from New York, a friend who just lost her husband. They moved in together to share expenses and help one another out.

Then, just last month, she suffered a knee injury and isn’t allowed back on the job site until that heals.

“I was really concerned about what I was going to do. I’ve been trying to keep the hope going, trying to keep a smile on my face around the little one.” The “little one” is her nine-year-old niece Naima, who she has raised since she was born. “She depends on me. It’s not supposed to make sense to her how the food gets on the table or how the bills get paid. She’s a kid.”

Jamillah was worried what she was going to do that week about food. Then she was referred to Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays. She, Naima and her friend were able to shop for a week’s worth of groceries at the pantry at First Presbyterian Church. She was so happy watching Naima pick out her favorite cereal and mac & cheese.

“She’s growing, she eats all the time. She’s smart and very good in school and that’s the least I can do is feed her and feed her well.”

“It helped put my mind at ease that night when I went back to the house and I had food to get us through the week until I could figure out some other things.”

When asked what she would say to someone about her experience, Jamillah shared that the one word that comes to mind is compassion. “We need to put ourselves in other peoples shoes in everything but especially when it comes to this thing of people having food. It could happen to anybody at any given time. I know. It helped my family when we needed it most.”