Meet Jeremiah: A Devoted DadPosted on November 12th, 2019
A devoted single father with a never-give-up attitude, Jeremiah has persevered through a journey of homelessness and survival as a victim of domestic violence and addiction. After experiencing homelessness for five months and living at a local shelter for an additional two months, Jeremiah and his family secured transitional housing at Simpson’s Passage Community.
Jeremiah described his initial relief when he and his girlfriend of seven years and their young son moved into their own place at Passage. He valued their newfound independence and space to establish their daily routine.
Jeremiah’s relief was quickly dispelled by the trauma he experienced as a victim of domestic violence within a turbulent relationship with his girlfriend. “It was difficult. My girlfriend was in and out of drug treatment. I was captive to her addiction. She was the leader of the household. I had to do whatever she wanted to do,” says Jeremiah.
Jeremiah found emotional support and self-confidence through Leroy, a Simpson Family Housing Program Manager. “I don’t know where I would be right now without him,” he says. “Leroy was my safety net. Whatever was happening I could tell him. We talked all the time. I could tell him what my girlfriend was doing. He understood what I was going through.”
Leroy recalls what a difficult time this was for Jeremiah. “There were frequent fights. He was a victim of domestic violence. It is hard for a man to admit this and talk about it.”
Jeremiah’s tolerance for his stressful situation neared its end around the time the couple’s second child, Skyler, was born. His girlfriend’s addiction resulted in outcomes, such as incarceration and further treatment, that led to her absence from the family’s life.
His newborn daughter Skyler had feeding and developmental issues requiring care in a neonatal intensive care unit for two and half months. Jeremiah eventually brought his daughter home from the hospital, parenting his children alone. “I sat on the couch and fed my daughter. I cried my eyes out for a month,” he says.
This was the turning point for Jeremiah. “As a man, I had no power. I had to deal with it for four and a half years. I had to set boundaries. To have people in my corner was a tremendous lift off my back – to have them see what I was going through was real. I realized I could get my kids.”
Leroy stood by Jeremiah’s side, offering advocacy and support: We shed a lot of tears together…. It was hard to take the steps. I told Jeremiah, ‘for you to make the progress in your life, you are going to have to do those things that are hard’.” Leroy helped Jeremiah overcome many barriers including the navigation of the court system to achieve custody of his children.
As Jeremiah’s two-year window in Simpson’s transitional housing program was approaching, Leroy was concerned about Jeremiah’s future housing situation. To ensure Jeremiah’s best chance at maintaining housing stability, Leroy wrote a letter to the centralized family housing assessment program on Jeremiah’s behalf requesting his reevaluation for housing as a single parent. It is uncommon to successfully appeal for a housing placement, but given Jeremiah’s unique and challenging situation, Leroy felt this was a viable option. As a result, Jeremiah and his children were placed as a single-parent family with another agency’s transitional housing program after leaving Passage.
Jeremiah expresses his gratitude for Simpson’s support — and especially for Leroy. “It was so nice to have someone who knew my situation and helped me deal with it. It was a lot of push, and a lot of give. More give,” he says.
Leroy is proud of Jeremiah and the significant changes he has made in his life to take care of his children and his own well-being: “I admire Jeremiah and respect him because he stood up for his kids. He stood up and said, ‘They are going to be with me. I am going to father my children.’”