In the winter of 2015, money was too tight for then 26-year-old Jerica to afford gifts for her three children. She was referred to Integrated Family Community Services (IFCS) for the Adopt-a-Child holiday program, through which a sponsor provided her family with Christmas gifts. Jerica returns to IFCS on occasion, when her family is in a pinch, and she has participated in additional companion programs and food support services. She claims that IFCS has been a “blessing [that] saved her life.”
We met Jerica because of the financial strain her family was experiencing, and her story inspires us. Jerica is a courageous, hard-working professional who does what she needs to take care of her family. She became a single mom when she left an unhealthy relationship of 15 years, the hardest – but also the best – decision of her life, and she hasn’t looked back. She is raising two elementary school children and a teenager in the south Denver metro area, with little support from the children’s father. In the toughest of times, she worked two jobs and donated plasma to pay rent. She traded a higher-earning career for a job with flexible hours that accommodates her children’s schooling and activities. She signed up, and waited years on a list, for affordable housing. She applied for, and was granted, a scholarship for her daughter to play competitive ball. She juggles the activities of a household of four despite needing a new truck.
Jerica insists on working as much as she can. She wants her children to learn that they need to work for the things they enjoy; she doesn’t want the kids to be stressed out by their financial struggles, but she lets them know that they don’t just “get things handed to them.”