This story has a happy ending! Destiny is a sweet, pretty girl who just got into an apartment. She spent almost her entire pregnancy living in a tent. She already has one beautiful son, and gave birth to a brand new baby boy in November.
Destiny is only 25 but has already lost both of her parents. She talked about how hard it is not to have either of them. But she is very grateful for what she does have. Her older son just turned five. She showed me the homemade cake she made him, decorated with candy. Like all proud moms, she showed off pictures of her boys to me. They are so sweet!
Lisa: What is your occupation or source of income?
Destiny: Right now, nothing. I just had a baby in November.
Lisa: Why don’t you have a job?
Destiny: I’m in the process of getting one right now.
Lisa: How long were you homeless?
Destiny: I’ve been in my new apartment since the end of September. I technically became homeless in 2016, but I was jumping around staying with friends and family. Where I was staying… [a long pause]… it wasn’t a good place to stay, but I did. I had nowhere else to go. I would just stay here and there. I finally came to Second Chance Village. I lived here for almost a year.
Lisa: What lead you to homelessness?
Destiny: Well, I lived with my mom and she passed away. I ended up with nowhere to live. My dad had passed away in 2010. I ended up homeless.
Lisa: Do you have any other family?
Destiny: I have a sister, but we don’t really talk.
Lisa: Where did you sleep last night?
Destiny: Now I sleep at my apartment! For a year I slept in a tent, though.
Lisa: So, you slept in the tent while you were pregnant?
Destiny: Yes. Almost my entire pregnancy I was in the tent. I didn’t get into my apartment until the end of September and had my baby at the beginning of November.
Lisa: How many hours of sleep did you get a night? It had to be so uncomfortable being pregnant and sleeping in a tent!
Destiny: It was a little uncomfortable, but I dealt with it. I actually slept pretty well. I think I just got used to it. I was in the tent from winter all the way through summer, fall, and back to winter.
Lisa: Were you warm in the winter?
Destiny: Yeah. I was here with my boyfriend and we had each other. We would just get under a bunch of blankets. It stayed pretty warm. Later Sage [Lewis, who owns the land where Second Chance Village was set up] had people who donated heaters. After that it was really warm in the tent.
Lisa: Did you usually have 3 meals a day?
Destiny: Yes. A lot of people would bring food here [to Second Chance Village] and Sage had the food bank stuff.
Lisa: Did you feel safe?
Destiny: Yes, but I was with my man too.
Lisa: What is your biggest fear?
Destiny: Well, when I was homeless it was not knowing if I was ever going to come out of this — not knowing if I would ever have a real home again. Things don’t last forever. I couldn’t just live in that tent forever. I was scared of where I would end up.
Lisa: What can people find you doing during the day?
Destiny: Now, I’m taking care of my kids. Back when I was homeless I worked at the Second Chance Village. Everyone there had to work. I ran the laundry room a lot.
Lisa: What were some of your daily struggles being homeless?
Destiny: Getting places was always hard. I had it a lot easier at Second Chance.
Lisa: What do you feel is the hardest thing about being homeless?
Destiny: I was okay. I had a roof over my head, the tent. I had food in my mouth. It could be a lot worse. Before I was in the tent, it was really hard being out on the streets, not knowing if you’re going to get hurt or attacked, not knowing what’s going to happen to you. It’s really scary.
Lisa: What do you feel are the leading causes of homelessness in Akron?
Destiny: There are lots of reasons for homelessness. Sometimes it’s addiction. Sometimes it’s mental illness. Some people are homeless because they’ve lost their jobs. There are a lot of ways to end up homeless.
Lisa: How do you think people who have never actually spoken to homeless people view them?
Destiny: Like they’re nothing. Most people who don’t talk to you treat you like you’re nothing.
Lisa: Do most people show you kindness or treat you rudely?
Destiny: Both. Most people were nice to me, but there are a lot that are rude and just mean to you.
Lisa: What does the word “home” mean to you?
Destiny: A secure place, with a roof over your head. No worries. Being with your family.
Lisa: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?
Destiny: Making snow angels with my son.
Lisa: How about the worst?
Destiny: (laughing) Waiting in the freezing cold for an hour to catch the Saturday bus!
Lisa: Is there anything that you really need right now?
Destiny: Well, I can always use clothes in different sizes for my baby. What I would really love to have is toys for my 5-year-old son. He doesn’t have that many toys for his room. I can always use clothes for him, too. Even hand-me-downs, if they are in good condition, he could use them.
Lisa: Is there anything else you want people to know about you, or about being homeless?
Destiny: It doesn’t last forever. You just have to go out and do what you need to do. There are places that can help you. You just have to make the effort to go look for it. Sign up for everything you can. Have faith and pray. There is a Lord above.
Akron Snow Angels are a volunteer-run charity whose mission is to “Spread the Warmth.” Volunteers help the most vulnerable in the Akron area by providing basic essentials like hats and coats, along with fostering compassionate friendships. If you would like to learn more, visit akronsnowangels.com
Lisa Kane has been on the board of the Akron Snow Angels for several years and frequently meet and talks to the homeless community in Akron.