Jacob first came to South Park Inn as a shy, frightened seven year old, along with his grandmother and four siblings in the summer of 2008. The family relocated to Connecticut from Puerto Rico, and lived for several months in an overcrowded apartment with an uncle, aunt, and several cousins.
Jacob’s grandmother, Rafaela, realized that they were risking the entire family’s housing by continuing to stay doubled up – they weren’t on the lease, and could be evicted at any time. She and her grandchildren came to South Park Inn not knowing what to expect, but were welcomed, sheltered, and cared for during their stay.
Initially, Jacob and his brothers and sister spoke only Spanish. From South Park Inn, they enrolled in school, and began to flourish in their new environment. Jacob, especially, loved coming home from second grade to share new English words and show his homework to the staff at South Park Inn. The family celebrated Christmas and birthdays during their time in the shelter, while Rafaela was able to obtain financial benefits, and apply for a grandparents’ housing program. They moved out in July of 2009, and have remained housed ever since.
For the last 10 years, Jacob and his family have stayed in touch with members of the South Park Inn team. It’s been an incredible pleasure to watch the growth and success of this remarkable young man. We are proud to share that Jacob graduated from East Hartford High School in June of 2018, as an academic success, and talented athlete on the varsity volleyball team. He is excited to begin his college career, at Capitol Community College and continues to set a positive example for his younger family members, and others in the community.
South Park Inn is beyond proud of Jacob’s accomplishments, and is honored to have been part of his journey from homelessness to success!
Jocelyn & family
Jocelyn arrived at South Park Inn as a 23 year old single mother of three, pregnant with her youngest son. She had left behind a difficult relationship, and came to Connecticut for a new start with her family. They stayed temporarily at a shelter in New Haven, then relocated to the Hartford area.
Jocelyn’s time at the shelter was spent focused on her kids – she enrolled her three eldest, Keven, Norma, and Dilayla, in school, and was able to get connected for supportive prenatal care during her pregnancy. She was awarded financial assistance from the state, and during her time in the shelter, saved up over $1000 for her family’s needs. Within a few months, they were able to move into their own beautiful three bedroom apartment, and welcomed baby Johanniel.
Jocelyn and her children still live in the same apartment, over six years later, and have stayed in touch, sharing the family’s progress and milestones. Through the years, Jocelyn has been steadily employed and promoted in several food service management roles. She also sets aside time to volunteer at her children’s school and participate in her faith community, all while being a loving, supportive, and protective mom. With the help of generous donors, South Park Inn has been able to continue to assist this hard-working and deserving family; providing the kids with back-to-school items and holiday gifts each year.
In July of 2018, Jocelyn stopped by South Park Inn’s office to bring a donation of her own – nearly 20 boxes of cereal for current residents to enjoy for breakfast. She said that she knew it wasn’t much, but was excited to be in a place where she and her children could share some of what they had with others in need. In her own words, Jocelyn expressed her gratitude for the people and assistance provided to her at South Park Inn,
“I was a resident of the South Park Inn during a difficult period in my life. But I met a South Park family, it is a family that helped me during my struggle, and made me feel at home. They are people that I carry in my heart as family. Thanks to them I am who I am, and I thank them for my achievements and for being able to become the mother that I am today. My children love that place that filled them with beautiful memories, and they ask about the staff all the time. Thank you South Park Inn for the opportunity to show you that I could be, and I am going to be more. Thank you for being part of my family.”
Ronald is a 55 year old Army veteran, who served honorably for the United States from July of 1982 to May of 1986. Following his discharge from the service, Ronald lived and worked independently for many years. Ronald’s homelessness came about after he welcomed another individual into his home, letting them stay with him for a short period of time. Ronald became a victim of fraud and identity theft when this person took advantage of his generosity. Facing credit problems, and struggling to sort out the mess that had been created, Ronald turned to South Park Inn.
Ronald’s challenges weren’t over, though. During his stay at South Park Inn, he was diagnosed with cancer, and began undergoing radiation therapy treatment. His bed at South Park Inn provided a safe, stable, comfortable place to continue attending his medical appointments, recover from the effects of treatment, and regain his strength as he battled the disease. Case managers at South Park Inn and the VA worked together closely to help Ronald apply for benefits and housing. Thanks in part to his veteran status, he was able to obtain a partially subsidized apartment, and moved out on his own in December of 2012.
After moving into his own place, Ronald continued to return to the South Park Inn Veteran Drop-In Center. Throughout his stay, he’d found that spending time in a supportive community of other veterans had been invaluable in keeping his spirits up as he struggled with homelessness and his health.
For the last six years, Ronald has served as a weekly volunteer at the Veteran Drop-In Center. He assists the staff every week to make sure that things run smoothly, that meals are served, and that veterans are connected with service providers from the community. Ronald’s dedication to helping homeless veterans has been amazing and heartwarming – he goes above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. In 2016, Ronald was elected to South Park Inn’s Veteran Advisory Committee, a group that focuses on veteran needs, and identifies opportunities for veterans to volunteer and serve others in the community.
Currently, Ronald’s cancer is in remission. He has maintained his housing, and has moved past the difficult financial situation that brought him to homelessness. Ronald was hired full time this year to work as a counselor at another veteran housing program. He still manages to find time to volunteer at South Park Inn, serving the community that helped him to find strength and resilience in his own time of need.