Gina is a 40-year-old woman currently experiencing homelessness. She grew up with what she described as a "decent childhood." Gina lived with her brother and her single mom. She shared that her house was like a safehouse for kids that didn't have a place to go, so there was always weed and alcohol in the house, especially when her mother began to drink regularly.
Gina worked throughout all of high school and moved out of the house at 16 with her boyfriend. She continued to work and met her now ex-husband in 2006. They dated for 9 months and were then married for 10 years until 2017. She had her first child with him at 26 and then had twins at 28. Her children are now 11 and 13.
Up until February 2020, Gina happily worked in the hotel industry. She shared that she had a great job at the front desk and that she made one on one contacts with clients, making her job quite enjoyable. However, she became extremely sick one month before the pandemic really hit. Gina shared that in March she was not completely let go from her job, but rather put into furlough which allowed her to file for disability and receive great benefits. Her three kids were doing at-home learning while she helped around the house. Gina shared that she began drinking excessively at this time simply because she was bored. She then shared that "a series of unfortunate events" led her to experience homelessness.
Gina began leaving her kids at home with her mom to visit the men that she was seeing at the time. She shared that she got into a serious car accident, but that she does not remember much because she had blacked out. However, Gina did share that nobody was hurt. She also mentioned that she started running away and it felt like a terrifying out-of-body experience. Gina then began to have sleepless nights and heard voices ordering her around that sounded like her family members.
The day that really caused her life to take a turn for the worst was when she was sitting on her porch, smoking a cigarette. She walked down to her garage and had 4-5 police officers screaming at her to sit down. Gina shared: "They started attacking me and aggressively grabbing me. I was so scared. They said that I was resisting arrest, but they just didn't tell me what I was getting arrested for." She also mentioned that they tased her in her back, causing her to convulse and forget a lot of what happened. Nonetheless, Gina did eventually find out that her mother called the cops saying that Gina was acting erratically, so she was put on a 5150.
During this time, the cops interviewed Gina's mom further, and her mom told them that Gina threatened to kill her with a knife & "squashed her head like a grapefruit." Gina said that this did not happen and that they were just joking around in the kitchen. Yet, Gina was still charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon. She shared that this sentence is typically life, but that in court it was ruled that Gina was innocent, causing the charges to go down to a misdemeanor.
Gina spent 6 1/2 months in prison with these charges, and although it seems like it would have been a horrible experience, she shared that it allowed her to reflect on her life and understand what had happened on a deeper level. With this being said, Gina still had a difficult time in prison and shared that "[she] just wanted family, and no one was there for [her]."
When she was released, Gina went to go live with the guy that she was seeing at the time. She went over to his house with a friend and quickly noticed that they began leaving to the bathroom together regularly. Gina then saw that her friend's makeup bag, razors, and other items were hidden under the sink. This was when she realized that he had been cheating on her whilst visiting her in jail and promising that they would live together afterward. Gina became extremely angry and opened a cupboard door so aggressively that it made a dent in the wall. The man that she was seeing kicked her out that night and Gina became homeless for another 6 1/2 months.
Gina slept in her car for a few weeks until it broke down and the cops came. She was arrested on a 5150 again due to her mental illness. However, she was released after a few days and began living at a local park. She shared that she would wash her feet in the sink and try to keep as clean as possible while on the street. Gina also shared that she would walk for miles every day to try to keep herself as sane as possible because "being homeless can really break you down to your core." Gina was able to see her three children every Tuesday and Thursday through CPS meetings. She shared that they would always bring her supplies but that it was extremely unfair that she was not able to live with them.
After a few months of living on the streets and trying to use resources that were really of no help, Gina found Grandma's House of Hope! She has been in the program for around 90 days now. Gina shared: "Grandma's House of Hope has really been a great foundation for me to get back on my feet again. The ladies here are great and the staff are super helpful. From the person that I was when I first got here, to the person I am now, is like day and night."
Gina mentioned that she has not been able to see her kids for the entirety of her time at GHOH because of her poor relationship with her brother, and since they now live with him, he can choose whether she can visit them or not. She said that her kids are her true hobby and she misses them very much.
Gina also shared that she loves the beach, bowling, and watching funny comedies. She is extremely grateful for the program at GHOH, and although she was in a bit of a "downward spiral" for some time, she is ready to better herself and see her children soon.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me and with the world, Gina! You are so incredible and we are all rooting for you! And another big thank you to GHOH for allowing me to interview Gina!
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