A young mother builds a better future for her children

Looking back, Jordan can see she had a tough childhood. Raised by a single mother who had mental health challenges, Jordan dropped out of school in the ninth grade and had her first baby at 17.

Still, she never dreamed she’d be homeless. She had been making money doing hair since she was in middle school and knew she could support herself. Yet at 23, she found herself facing life on the street with a baby and a toddler after her boyfriend went to jail, and his cousin, who they’d been staying with, was evicted.

Jordan reached out to Monmouth County social services, which placed her in Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton’s Linkages program. Linkages is emergency transitional housing for individuals and families in crisis. Staff link clients with wraparound services and community resources while the clients work to overcome hardships that led to their homelessness.

For Jordan, Linkages represented a safe, stable home base for her and her two youngest children while she pursued her general-equivalency degree and employment. She also learned to drive through referrals from Linkages – a skill that became critical to her self-sufficiency after the county moved her and her family into low-income permanent housing in Ocean County, where she needed a car to get to the store, work, and more.

After leaving Linkages, she continued working to lift her family toward a better future. She became a certified nursing assistant, landed a job in January 2018, and bought a car.

Every stride she made toward stability carried her closer to her goal of regaining custody of her oldest child, who was in his grandmother’s care. Last August, a judge restored her son to her custody.

In September, Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton will honor Jordan with a Client Achievement Award at the agency’s 30th Annual Guardian Angel Dinner Dance. Jordan sees the honor as worthy recognition of all that she has accomplished.

“I’m glad that y’all see me trying, so that’s cool,” she said. “I came a long way. I like who I am today.” But, she emphasized, she’s not done trying.

“I want to have a house, my own hair salon, and have my own trucking business by the time I’m 40,” said Jordan, who’s now 26, smiling as she added: “I want an in-ground pool, and I need a little fire pit in the corner.”

Linkages inspired her to look forward to the future, she said. “I’ve always been about money, always thinking where I can get the dollars to do what I need to do,” Jordan said. “But now I’m all about good vibes. I’m thinking better. I’m thinking not just about today’s dollars. I’m thinking about tomorrow’s dollars.”

She added: “I don’t want my kids to grow up how I did. I don’t want them to have to worry about bills. I don’t want to tell them ‘no’ because I can’t or I’m broke. I want to be able to say ‘no’ because I said ‘no.’ I want to take them out to eat without having to check my bank account. I want them to be comfortable. I want my kids to be kids as long as they can. And I plan on doing everything I can to make that happen.”