Life has had its ups and downs for the close-knit family of three. Before being referred to SVDP’s supportive housing program, they were staying in a local homeless shelter. “I’d never been in a homeless shelter, and my kids didn’t like it there,” Craig recalls. “But it was a blessing, because at least we were together. I explained to them everyday, ‘Look, this is what we’ve got to do for now.’”
Many factors contributed to their situation.Craig and the twins’ mother had separated, and Craig had moved to another city to find work when the children were young. The kids stayed behind with their mother until her drug use and chaotic lifestyle prompted Craig to take action. “She wasn’t taking care of them, so my mom was taking food to them, feeding the kids, and going by there in the mornings to get them dressed for school. Jeffrey was really being mistreated.”
Craig fought for and eventually won custodyof the twins. They were doing well, and Craig had a good job as a maintenance supervisor. But when he was hospitalized with pneumonia, doctors discovered other serious health issues, including COPD and diabetes. Unable to continue meeting the physical demands of his job, he was let go.
Falling several months behind in rent, he then lost his home. It has been a hard road back, but the family is now stabilized and doing well as residents of St. Vincent de Paul’s supportive housing program for formerly homeless families.“
Living here is such a blessing,” Craig says. “I feel secure. And the kids love it.”
His son’s behavioral problems have improved significantly. Four of the boy’s therapists have told Craig they’ve seen his son undergo a complete turnaround since moving here. Jeffrey works to keep his grades up, and he plays football at middle school. Daughter Jasmine is a cheerleader. Craig financed the expenses required for the extra-curricular activity by working service hours at the school’s concession stand. He jokes that he spends most all of his time a tthe school, in parent-teacher conferences, and at the kids’ activities and appointments.
As for personal pursuits, Craig has started riding a bicycle for exercise, and he hopes to be able to join the YMCA to improve his health, he says. As the head of his household, he is thoughtful with the family’s grocery money, planning meals that are budget-friendly.
“My kids don’t like it, but sometimes I make beans and cornbread,”he says. “You know why? Because it stretches,” he says, laughing. “I thank God for my mother. She gave me sense, and she taught me things like how to save my money and how to stretch things.”
He strives to instill that same common senseand discipline in his kids. For instance, if their grades slip, he takes away privileges. He also makes them stick to a routine. “My kids get up at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. to get ready for school. They wash their face, brush their teeth… I make them keep their rooms clean, and I make them do chores.”“
Craig is a perfect example of a parent’s commitmentto his children,” says Leah Campbell, Craig’s SVDP case manager. “His kids are doing awesome.”
“I’m happy. I’m blessed,” the single dad explains. “That’s why I am so hard on my kids. I want them to go to college, get a decent job, and make a good life for themselves. “I tell them, ‘You all don’t see it now, but one day you’ll thank me.’”