A few months ago, I met Jacob. He’s an energetic, always smiling 6 year old boy. He lives at the extended stay motel where I lead an outreach on Friday nights. Jacob always comes down to where the bus is parked. He comes alone, but we all knew why. The “community” at Budget Suites is almost like a small town within a small town. Like any small town,word gets around. His mother was in jail.
One night, Jacob was talking about his family. I asked him who was in his family… who did he live with? He explained to me that he lived with his grandma and his mom…well, he said, “my mom is running…you know, like when you exercise.” I knew that he was hearing bits and pieces of what was real and trying to put it all together in his little mind.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Jacob’s grandma when she came into the food pantry. She is a strong woman who has had a tough life. She herself has been in and out of jail. She’s now raising Jacob and his disabled cousin. She is without work right now, driving a car that barely runs and struggling to make ends meet. She doesn’t have much to be happy about right now, however, when she talks about her grand babies, her face changes. She’s not worried about hunger or homelessness, but she is worried that if they have to live in her beat up car, that she will lose custody of “her babies”. That’s a reality that she can’t accept.
The day we spoke, she was about to be evicted because she didn’t have the $86 she needed to keep a roof over her head until the money she was to receive came through three days later. Thanks to a big-hearted friend of mine and Metro Relief, she was able to stay. She was also trying to come up with the gas money needed to pick Jacob up from his dad. According to his grandma, he had been in and out of Jacob’s life since he was a baby and was not a very nice man. The night before, Jacob had called her crying to come home, saying his daddy wouldn’t quit screaming and he was scared.
Jacob is the name and the face this time, but the story is familiar to lots of the kids who live at Budget Suites. It’s not a surprise that when we pull in to the motel parking lot and honk the horn, these kids RUN to us! For two hours, they are allowed to be kids…playing, having a snack, learning about a God who loves them and wants them. ~ Pam