At 22, while double majoring in English and accounting at University of the District of Columbia, Jenny was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Before her diagnosis, Jenny was well on her way to being a successful woman, as she had a great job through a work-study program. Unfortunately, as her condition began to slowly set in, she began to slow down, her work productivity dropped, and she eventually lost her job. She also had to drop her accounting major, because it became too stressful to manage two majors. At 26, despite all adversity, she was blessed with her first child. After years of perseverance, she graduated in 2001, while pregnant with her second child.
Home has not always been a safe haven for Jenny. She told us she has a strenuous relationship with her mother due to her mother’s constant criticism because of her condition. She also had to take care of her grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, until her passing. Another struggle has been to have her sons’ fathers be involved in their lives. As she did not have a father-daughter bond, she would like her sons to have the experience she did not.
Currently, Jenny is a paraeducator, where she works with special needs children in grades Pre-K through sixth grade. She is also active in the community, volunteering at a local church for six years. Despite her hard work, Jenny was scheduled to have her utilities shut off when she came to Interfaith Works through the Congregation & Community Emergency Support program. Her entire apartment is electric, so she would not be able to cook, keep food cool, or keep her house cool. Her two boys have asthma and rely on electricity to administer life-saving medication. With Multiple Sclerosis, she must also keep the temperature cool to remain stable. When she isn’t stable, she can’t work and support her family.
Jenny wrote to Interfaith Works recently, thanking everyone for helping her keep her lights on and her air conditioning running. In the future, she hopes to get a Master’s degree and move into the field of finance. Overall, her pride and joy are her two boys, for whom she continues to persevere and work on becoming independent and self-sufficient.
(Photo: Jessica, an intern with Interfaith Works (left), is pictured with Jenny (right).)