In 2012, life was going great for Jeffrey Stewart. He had recently gained sole custody of his two sons, Alonzo and Romeo, and the family lived comfortably in an apartment in the city. Jeffrey’s job as a night shift cook allowed him the flexibility to spend time with his sons during the day.
But two years ago, “everything just started going downhill with no breaks.”
Jeffrey’s job no longer offered the night shift and he had to juggle childcare. He eventually lost his job and spent months looking for another position in the food service industry that would fit his schedule, but the job hunt was difficult as the sole caregiver for two young boys. And as the job hunt grew longer, the more behind he became on rent. Jeffrey came home to an eviction notice on the door.
“Here I was homeless during the winter with my two-year-old and three-year-old boys.”
Jeffrey and his sons spent nights sleeping in emergency rooms to escape the cold and were eventually moved into a motel, where they stayed for six months.
“My kids were soldiers and I was happy to have a roof over our heads,” Jeffrey says. “But, I didn’t have a game plan and that worried me.” Jeffrey coped by drinking more, and as a result, he lost custody of his children.
“This was my reality. I didn’t have my kids, a place to call home, and had a problem with alcohol. Community of Hope came into my life when I was at rock bottom.”
In early 2016, Jeffrey moved into our Hope Apartments, transitional housing for families who are in need of substance abuse services. It is one of the few programs in DC where families remain intact while the head of household works toward sobriety goals. “Community of Hope helped me recognize that it was possible to grow and move forward.”
Jeffrey’s newfound stability was the foundation he needed to get started on his goals. His case manager helped him map out his priorities: working on his sobriety, so that he can regain custody of his sons as soon as possible. An employment specialist is working with Jeffrey to help him find a full-time job.
Since February, Jeffrey has attended both in-patient and out-patient programs and recently completed a quarter-point in his treatment. He is currently participating in a 12-week parenting program at Hope Apartments, where he is learning to build on his parenting and life skills. In May, Jeffrey regained full custody of Alonzo, 5, and Romeo, 4.
“Community of Hope gave me the structure to get back what I lost. I got my self-esteem back. I got my kids back. I got my hope back.”