135 Years, 135 Stories title image

A Fresh Start at Life for Me and My Baby

NICOLA, New York

My name is Nicola and I live at Inwood House’s Victory Residence. Opportunity to me means getting a chance to do something, then taking advantage of the chance and the situation. I have taken a chance at mainly every opportunity granted to me.

I grew up in a very small town in ST. Thomas, Jamaica. My mom wasn’t always home so I had to take on the responsibility of raising my self and younger sister at the age of seven. Some nights I would go to bed hungry because there was hardly any food to eat. My dad did not support me financially or emotionally so I had to turn to my community for help and to me they were family. At the age of 12 my dad finally decided to move me to the states where I lived in Bridgeport, CT. I was only with him for 2 years until the Department for Children and Families stepped in because of physical and emotional abuse. I was devastated because I didn’t want to be away from my family. I felt alone and even depressed.

I went from being independent to living in a variety of group home settings where I had no choice or say about my life and felt like my social worker wouldn’t listen to me. And, where I lived, I was the only one who wasn’t white. Some people treated me like I didn’t exist, other people called me names and made me feel unwelcome. I felt the only thing I had to do was run away, so I did.

I ran to New York for nine months at the age of sixteen where I made some bad decisions and was sent to a lock down facility. The experience was horrible! After almost a year, I was taken back to Connecticut and placed in another group home in Westport, CT. Ten days after my 18th birthday I ran away and came back to NY and this time it was for good. After I was signed out of the system, I found myself living on the streets and after a while I met a guy who said that I could stay with him. During that time he was emotionally abusive and once I got pregnant he wanted nothing to do with me. I had nowhere else to go with no money or even friends. I was alone when I was introduced to the Sisters of Life Program and they took me to the Covenant House. I was only at Covenant House for 3 weeks before getting accepted into Inwood House/Victory Residence.

I was only 3 months pregnant at the time. At first I didn’t feel like I could do anything or be apart of anything because I didn’t have proof of who I was. I worked with the case manager Aida who helped me find The Children’s Arts and Science Workshop where I participated in their GED program and got my diploma on the first try in August. I was satisfied but not at ease with myself because I wanted more. Inwood House helped me get all my documents and paperwork together so that I could apply for work. I got my first job working at a summer camp through the summer youth employment program. I was happy that I would be making money and working with kids. As my due date approached I started feeling overwhelmed because I thought I was going to be living in the streets. I filled out the application for a mother and child room at Victory Residence and I was able to move in. I was overwhelmed with joy. Even though I had a big belly I kept all my doctors apt, attended workshops, looked for jobs and applied for permanent housing.

On September 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm weighing 7 pounds 12.4 ounces, Malachi Isaiah Brown was born and I was Happy. He brings joy to my life and every day I thank god for him. He puts a smile on my face when I’m down and when I’m around him I can never be mad. His smile warms my heart, his laughter warms my soul and him just being there to love me puts me at ease. I am the best mother I could be and I want him to grow to know that. When he was only 3 months old, I did a Home Health Aide training that the Children’s Arts and Science workshop paid for and the staff supported me the best way they could. I plan to start school in the fall 2013 to further my education and knowledge in becoming a nurse. Inwood House has provided me with a roof over my head and food to eat. Inwood House has given me and my baby new opportunities and a fresh start at life. I am happy that my time at Victory Residence has been extended until September after which I will move into my own apartment. Inwood House staff have touched and helped me in so many ways that words cannot explain. I am so thankful to be apart of the Inwood House Family.

Finally, I wanted to share a quote with you that really has inspired me. It’s by Dr. Seuss. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” In life people go through difficult situations but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Giving up is easy to do so are you going to let that stop you from reaching your full potential and achieving your goals?

Nicola's Story