Kenya Costley had always envisioned the perfect future—becoming a nurse and traveling the world. But, after the passing of her beloved father—everything immediately changed. She was faced with the challenges of unstable housing. While dealing with grief, unemployment, and the bills of her father’s estate, Kenya had no choice but to move in with her partner and later became pregnant. “It was very saddening because I didn’t see my life like that. I couldn’t raise a child at 18.”
Feeling discouraged by her current situation, Kenya found hope when she started receiving prenatal services at Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center. “I love it there [Family Health and Birth Center]. Every time I go, they know who I am. The staff are always nice and get you into a good mood.” Kenya faced more disappointment when she was informed that she couldn’t have a birth center delivery due to her high-risk pregnancy. Kenya’s situation continued to worsen as she and her partner started facing relationship issues and she once again found herself looking for somewhere to live. For the next several months, this young, expectant mother house-hopped. Despite it all, Kenya’s focus remained on the health of her baby and herself. Although Kenya endured a lot mentally and emotionally while pregnant, nothing could have prepared her for what she would experience during labor and delivery. “The doctors couldn’t get my son out quick enough. He came out and wasn’t crying.”
The doctors informed Kenya that her newborn son had bleeding in his brain, and she needed to prepare for his passing. “I sat in the hospital room for a while. I told my son, I was sorry and that it’s okay if he wants to move on. I thought it was my fault.” Kenya left the hospital without her baby and heartbroken. A few days later, the hospital called to tell her that her son was alive and well, but he would face a long road of special needs and attention. “To be expected to die and now to be moving his arms, I’m like wow. Since then, he’s been hanging on!” While Kenya was grateful that her son was okay, her housing situation remained unstable. She continued bouncing between homes of loved ones with her small family but knew she needed to take control of her housing. She connected with the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center and was placed in Community of Hope’s Rapid Re-Housing program.
This program helps families experiencing homelessness move into their own homes with short- to medium-term rental assistance, utility assistance, and supportive services. Kenya was also connected with employment and community resources. “I was scared I couldn’t do the program. It was the first time I was on my own. I had to pay rent and bills.” Even through Kenya’s many struggles, she knew she had a proven community-based organization supporting her and remained hopeful and confident. She’s been working with her case manager and an employment specialist for about a year to help ensure she’s successful in the program. With their help, she has learned how to manage her money, created a bill schedule for on-time payments, and enrolled in an administration certification program. “My case manager gives me advice and so many resources no matter what time I reach out. I love that about her. The program has really helped me become stable.”
Today, as a strong mother of two, Kenya and her family are still receiving quality health care from Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center and dedicated support through the Rapid Re-Housing program. Kenya is now focused on finishing her administration certificate program so she can eventually work in a medical office, save money, and work towards buying a house with a backyard. “I want to have a good life so my kids can have a good life. I’m thankful Community of Hope has gotten me this far.”