The Day Begins: Arriving and Departing
Mornings begin with "Jalen" arriving home from his third shift job at Pacific Manufacturing and "Jasmine" departing for her job as an elderly caregiver.
They don’t see each other as much as they’d like, but this schedule allows one of them to always be available for the kids—and to share just one car.
In July, Jasmine (21), Jalen (23), and their three children (ages 3, 2, and 9 months) left their home in Alabama because their landlord canceled their lease rather than fixing the broken plumbing. Jalen had lived in Cincinnati for a few ye
ars as a teenager and had fond memories.
Their money didn’t last long staying in a hotel, and after three weeks of living in their car (with no air conditioning!), they arrived at Bethany House.
After three months living in shelter, Jasmine and Jalen have a morning routine. They get the kids up around 8am and have them ready for their daycare bus promptly at 8:30am.Their children get fed at daycare, so they are not too worried about getting breakfast at Bethany House before it stops at 8am. Jalen waits with the kids for the bus while Jasmine leaves for her caregiving shift at 9am.
They are relieved not only that all three kids have daycare but also that there is a bus providing transportation to and from Bethany House. They also qualified for a daycare voucher, which makes it much more affordable.As the day for most people is just beginning—including Jasmine and her kids—Jalen heads to his bedroom to get some much-needed rest.
Midday: Working and Resting
Jasmine's work as the caregiver for an elderly client keeps her busy at work all day.
She helps her client dress, bathe, use the bathroom, and eat. She cooks and cleans, and they eat lunch together. Sometimes she drives her client down to the river to enjoy the view.Jasmine earns $15/hr, notably more than she earned back home in Alabama. However, she needs a three-bedroom apartment for her family, and rent has skyrocketed in Cincinnati. She anticipates paying close to $1,750/month.
While Jasmine works, Jalen continues to rest so he’s ready for another night shift. He doesn’t terribly enjoy living in shelter, but he appreciates Jasmine's research: she found Bethany House online, and they waited three weeks for a room to open. Some families can’t wait that long.If he can’t sleep, knows that there is always hot lunch served at Bethany House. Similarly, he knows that afternoons are also a good time to meet with their Bethany House case manager to talk about their goals and housing plan. However he spends his afternoon, Jalen knows he has to be up and ready for the arrival of his kids at 4:30pm.
Dinner: Briefly Together
The daycare bus arrives back to Bethany House promptly at 4:30pm. Jalen makes sure he is standing out front to greet his three kids.He takes them directly to dinner, which has just started in Bethany House’s cafeteria. Both he and the kids are hungry, and just in case anything runs out, it’s good to get there right at the beginning. Bethany House’s head chef, Ms. Lori, tries to make the meals nutritious and kid-friendly.
Jasmine usually arrives home from her work as an elderly caregiver in the middle of dinner. She joins her family, and they enjoy the beginning of their precious time together.
After dinner, the kids often play in the shelter courtyard. It’s not a big space, but it gives the kids an important outlet. Until they came to Cincinnati a few months ago, Jasmine and Jalen’s children were outdoors all the time. They were--and remain--"country" kids who are incredibly active!
Curfew at Bethany House is 5:45pm, so going to a park or on a different family outing after dinner is not an option. Jalen is especially frustrated by this rule, but it is in place so that families can attend evening programming and to help establish bedtime routines for kids.
The kids usually play until around 7pm. As Jasmine starts the kids’ baths and nighttime routine, Jalen heads out (Curfew does not apply to those with second or third shift jobs.) for the night shift.
Bedtime: Dreaming of November 20th
Jasmine knows that getting her kids ready for bed in shelter is a unique challenge. She monitors the communal bathroom situation while they play. She knows she needs to get one of the bathtubs for her toddlers. If she has to wait too long, it throws off the routine.
She looks forward to having their own bathroom in their next apartment. Her cleanliness standards are high. With so many sharing the bathtubs and showers right after dinner, they are rarely as clean as she would like them to be. Everyone in the shelter has to be in their rooms by 9pm so children can get a good sleep. Jasmine finishes cleaning the kids and retires to their room before curfew. She is determined to move out by November 20th, her birthday, even as that date fast approaches.
While Jasmine is getting the kids to bed, Jalen is starting his third shift job at Pacific Manufacturing.Working nights is hard, but it allows him to see his kids off to daycare in the morning and greet them when they arrive home. And it maximizes use of the family vehicle. Jalen has worked Monday through Friday nights since arriving to Bethany House, but he is also about to start a weekend job at FedEx from 10pm-6am. He will soon be working seven nights a week, and this new job even pays an extra dollar per hour than his weekday job: $17.50. Hopefully the extra money will help them move out of shelter even faster. Jalen also hopes to move out by Jasmine's birthday this week and wants to be in their own place for Thanksgiving. At the end of the day, Jasmine and Jalen know that Bethany House will continue to help them whether or not they meet their November 20th goal.