Story #6

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Irodney P. – “I want to earn it, not have it handed to me”

BronxWorks Residence for Homeless Families

Irodney is excited. He is excited about his two jobs, his daughter’s graduation from high school, and his beautiful new granddaughter. He is very excited about recently moving his family into an apartment of their own.

These are milestones he would not have thought possible several years ago. Irodney has taken care of his daughter since she was four years old, after her mother gave him full custody. As a newly single father, he had no idea how to take care of her but his co-workers at the time offered him support in a variety of ways.

Two years ago, they found themselves at a crossroads. Irodney had lost his job and while he looked for work, they stayed at a friend’s apartment, paying for food and personal expenses. But on visits to the apartment, city officials deemed the situation unsafe for his teenage daughter. Fearing he could lose custody of her, Irodney and his daughter were willing to do anything to avoid being separated. With no other options, they chose to enter the city’s temporary shelter system.

In September, 2010, they arrived at one of BronxWorks’ residences for homeless families. Like with all families who come there, a case worker created an Independent Living Plan for them that offered activities such as job skills training, a budget and savings plan, and assistance with finding permanent housing. Irodney took advantage of everything available to him, and his daughter worked at a local community center while going to school. He wanted to give up many times when their apartment applications were rejected but kept trying thanks to the consistent encouragement from the dedicated staff.

Today, his excitement for how far they have come is infectious. He holds down two part-time jobs, including one at an IHOP restaurant where he quickly moved from the back of the kitchen to the front of the restaurant serving customers after the manager learned he had memorized the entire menu. He hopes to take advantage of the training opportunities the company offers so he can move up the management ladder. In June, his daughter graduated from high school (he proudly holds her diploma in the accompanying photo) and has just started attending LaGuardia Community College.

Irodney is grateful for all he has received but also understands that you have to help yourself. He recognizes that just like him, many people need help but believes that receiving public assistance should be thought of as a temporary strategy. He says there is nothing quite like the satisfaction you get when you sign your name on the back of the paycheck.

BronxWorks helps individuals and families in the Bronx every year, thanks to many partners, volunteers, donors, and good friends. Each day, with your help, we are lifting the lives and building the futures of individuals just like Irodney and his family, who have good reason to be so excited for their future.

BronxWorks’ three family residences provide temporary shelter for 276 homeless families at a time. They provide comprehensive support that includes case management, assistance with applying for benefits, budgeting, medical services, and childcare, while helping families secure permanent housing. Comments or questions? Send them to info@bronxworks.org.

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