Location: Intown Collaborative Ministries
Female, Age: 60
“Jennifers loves to tell the truth
My dad told me a theif and a liar will live in hell”
Daniel Enger (Interviewer) Good morning. Today is November 4, 2021, and we’re here on Ponce in Atlanta at the offices of Intown Collaborative Ministries. My name is Daniel Enger and I have the pleasure of being here today with Jennifer. I thank you very much for taking the time to talk today. I’m looking forward to hearing your story and learning from you. Jennifer, my first question for you is a really big one namely, please tell the story of your life from the time you were a small child up to the present day.
Jennifer: My story since I was a small child is I grew up knowing I was very religious every time I looked we were in church. I got a older sister I don’t know where she’s at. After a while I started reading and I noticed they had articles of different colleges and institutions that were real religious. I seen the one of God’s Bible School in Cincinnati and that’s where I ended up. I graduated from God’s Bible School, high school and then I went to College and I got a degree in psychology. And after graduation I came to Atlanta this guy I knew it’s like a good friend, so I came to Atlanta and then I just relocated that was my new home in 1982. And I worked a few places but I was just right there at a minimum wage and I had never got a job that was in psychology I hadn’t used my degree yet at all. So, I was working and basically, I got married to the guy he always used to come from US Army down to Jamaica I seen him down at the Base at the Port Royal Base, so we kept in contact over the years and we got married around here at the Court House in 1994. And I got pregnant and I noticed that the relationship was gettin real abusive and I didn’t know what to do and after a while I just; well the baby died you know after two months then I just got up and left cause and it was just like I too awful. So that’s when I became homeless (crying). I just been wandering in the streets and I have worked some but not much (crying), I lost everything I lost my ID, it’s been a good while and now it’s the year 2000 and Matthew he said he would help me. I ‘ll see if I can get my green card, the lady she told me over there from the Pathway if I could even get my Green Card as ID and she told me yes but I have to be from an abusive so I told her I haven’t really been abusive but I did have a little conflict with my husband, and the baby and everything and she told me okay. And she sent me the forms and everything that was in the passport and how I went to Cincinnati and to Indiana and you know the last time I could use my Visa was in August 1982. So my Visa ran out and then the guy decided to marry me and but I really didn’t get nothin out of it. Maybe he could help me with the Green Card or something, and now I’m homeless so Matthew’s tryin to work with me he’s been doin it for a year now. But I’m getting the forms I have three forms I filled out and then, I have two interviews on the phone and now I’m looking for the third one he said he would set it up for me Monday but I don’t know what happened Monday. Then yesterday he told me he said “if I would like to come over and do some practice . . . and tell somebody about my life” so I said okay sure then here I am telling about my awful life. It’s kind a sad to myself cause I can’t even imagine my life being like this I know I don’t claim to be no Christian but (weeping) I love the Lord and everything but it’s been so awful I just I can’t understand how my parents could mess my life up like this so bad. All because of that Visa and the passport and my stuff gotten stole but that passport is really messin my life up. He gave me a Visitors Visa when I should have had the Green Card and he’s a business-man and he got his and they have theirs and my sister she even got hers. And now I don’t know where to turn because of the Visitors Visa I lost my Birth Certificate I can’t even get my Social Security Card because they told me I didn’t have my Birth Certificate. I asked the lady if I could use if I had this interview and she told me this is the interview so I could get my green card so I told her if I could use my green card in this interview as my ID and she said sure, and she told me I have to have proof of domestic violence in my life. I don’t have a whole bunch of domestic violence I was married and that didn’t work out and now I’m homeless I hadn’t even been over there with the boy I thought he could have helped me a little bit more but he didn’t do it. He was in the Army and had been overseas and all this here stuff and basically that’s my life, that little piece of paper.
Daniel: Jennifer, of all the things you’ve accomplished or overcome in your life so far what are you most proud of?
Jennifer: I’m proud of that I’m living really but breathing that’s just about it, I know I have life, and I know I could do better I see life in people I just don’t know what happened.
Daniel: Jennifer, you’ve gained a lot of hard-fought wisdom from experiences in your life so far, if you were invited to share your wisdom with school kids in your community giving them guidance to live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives, what advice would you give to young people?
Jennifer: I would tell them to just expect the best out of live and just keep tryin just tell the truth you know about what’s going on in your life. Because you know I believe there’s good and bad there’s a good side and a bad side to everything you know just choose the good side the best you can do, and use your judgement and your wisdom it’s right there in front of your eyes and just be contented in whatever it is because you choose the best out of life.
Daniel: Jennifer, in what ways would you say your life is going well these days? Please talk a little bit about how life is good for you at the present time.
Jennifer: Life is just breathing and that’s good cause I could have even been dead you know, I just don’t know you know (weeping) I just don’t know if there could be a better life. You talk about being transformed you don’t even know if that’s the life your gonna live. Cause I just see a normal life but I just don’t have nothin at all. (weeping throughout) what is help nobody really cares. He used to do it you know when I was working I didn’t make no 40 hours a week and I just made enough money so I could pay the rent, I can have one meal and then I can always runnin up and down the street catching the bus that’s life runnin up and down the street lookin stupid. Christmas time come lookin at the lights, Valentines come and just lookin at the hearts, Thanksgiving just lookin at the turkey you know, it’s like you see it but you don’t touch it that’s life.
Daniel: Jennifer, looking ahead now looking to the future. When it Comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life what are your hopes and dreams looking ahead?
Jennifer: I hear somebody say once a man twice a child and you know growing up it seemed like I had life you know more abundantly, it’s been more abundantly since I been on my own not even 14 or 20 when I graduated from college after that 20 – 21 it’s like no life. I work, catch the bus again pay rent and get one, two meals you know that’s life.
Daniel: What about the future, what do you dream for the future?
Jennifer: I don’t know, talk about go to heaven and I don’t know what kind of space they have in the sky cause I don’t imagine stuff like that. The only thing I imagine really is the whole city burnt down cause that’s what they talk about in some of those magazines you know. I used to read Jehovah’s Witnesses you know Charles Stanley it’s like life right now is total chaos. And I never imagined my life being like that because I just didn’t imagine it. I imagine good and bad you know I imagine evil and wicked, cause you know life is evil there’s some wicked stuff going on that make people don’t get along with stuff I imagine life like that but I don’t imagine life like total ruins.
Daniel: Jennifer, what are some of the persona strengths that you draw on as you pursue your hopes and dreams for the future, what are some of your strengths?
Jennifer: Listening to all these people tell the truth about . . . even the President Trump I think he’s just about the best president I ever heard of how he wants to make peoples life better. You know even with that money issue he was giving these people that work that day they would get like $1,700 dollars and a lot of people don’t experience that kind of money a day you probably get it every two weeks but I thought that was the best issue in. I know the world spend a lot of money I don’t know if somebody make money, if somebody is using money, I know they don’t give away money they don’t do that, and you know if you ask for some money you know going down the street you say you got a couple dollars I can have and basically that’s how I been doing it too getting loans getting whatever. People don’t just give; I think it was Monday I asked this guy if he had some cupcakes and first he said “would you like something to eat” down there where they hand out the food at the capitol that’s where I been hangin out and I stop him and I say you got some food and he said “not really” and a I said you ain’t got no cupcakes he said “no, but I got $10 dollars” and he hand me $10 dollars out the window. And I said yeah I really need $10 dollars he told me “go on and enjoy your cupcakes” and I still have my $10 dollars. Because I need something else because I been eating, I need some clothes I need some pants. But people just don’t when you on a job it’s like the minimum wage now is $5.75 and you know you work a hour you get $5.75 and how I used to work I get $20 dollars a day that was $4 dollars an hour you know you get 4 x 8 you know, 4 x 5 you know you get about $30 dollars a day. I mean if you looking for money you know that’s money, but if you looking for life you know what life has to offer. And I seen and I’ve heard social security taxes and social security this and social security that but that President Trump he’s the only person that ever spoke life to me cause that’s I mean if you have people in the world you know how you gonna . . . . life is so meager you know everything cost you know the government is making all the money back and I don’t know if the government is the Lord God or if the government is a man you know, just being so wicked I just don’t comprehend it. Get your friends and treat your friends nice.
Daniel: Jennifer, what are some of the challenges and obstacles that you see standing in between you and realizing your hopes and dreams , what holds you back?
Jennifer: mmm I don’t know . . . I just have a whole bunch of wicked people around me. I just, just my dad he is so wicked I don’t know if he is the world leader or whoever it is but that’s my chance of getting him back. The only way I see anything change is if a country pop out of the ocean and say “Oh Jennifer come to me, this is your world, this is how you manage your world, this is all the things you can do, this is how you make your money, this is how you make your clothes, this is how you get something to eat.” I don’t see no change in my life, absolutely none (weeping through the whole paragraph.)
Daniel: Jennifer, you’ve spoken about challenges and obstacles that you face what needs to be done so those challenges and obstacles can be overcome and you can realize your hopes and dreams? What needs to be done to overcome the challenges and obstacles you face?
Jennifer: Is that the same question you asked the one before that? Is that the same question?
Daniel: Their similar, the one before was what are the challenges and obstacles that you face. This one is what has to be done in order to overcome those obstacles and challenges?
Jennifer: I don’t know, start believing in heaven cause I don’t know if that’s the way people get the world, or people get new land, and land there and be your own person there.
Daniel: Jennifer, please I’d like to ask you some questions about the homeless community, the first one is. How would you describe the homeless community in Atlanta? Who are the people who make up the homeless community?
Jennifer: I don’t know it look like guys make up the homeless community a lot, but you know when I see myself you know living in shelters and stuff now they want you to do is get you social security started and get a social security card, use the social security as a income, your birth certificate, and your social security card, and your Georgia ID use that so you can obtain housing, get food stamps. And your birth certificate means that your United States American Citizen, you were born in the United States of America, you have your social security card and you can get social security income like what Trump talk about or you can get your Georgia ID, and drivers license whatever you get housing. Them are the three things you need so you can start your life again and for some reason when I live in the shelters I got food stamps before I got food stamps when I first came to Atlanta. The lady she told me she said “you won’t be able to work when you get these food stamps”, I got the food stamps like in July and my passport and my Visa was finished in August. I said may be I can use that kind of psychology, anyway about the next week or so I got a job working at Popeye’s and the lady she told me she say “you won’t be able to get” so I say okay and I stop, I called her on the telephone I told her I got a job I don’t need no more food stamps. And when I became homeless you know I can’t get no food stamps cause I don’t have no ID, and no birth certificate, cause that same lady stole all my stuff.
Daniel: Jennifer, when it comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life how would you describe the hopes and dreams of people who are homeless in Atlanta?
Jennifer: I can’t see it very good you know the Americans look out for the Americans.
Daniel: When you have conversations with people who are homeless and they talk about what they dream of for the future what do they say?
Jennifer: Having a crack party, smoking and drinking all the marijuana they can … that’s basically what they do, and when that’s finished, they just go back into the shelter you know they start the whole thing back over again you know. Don’t know if they got a identify theft or whatever but before you know it they got the apartments back, they got they income going you know they living in a cycle world you know how can somebody operate a scam like that.
Daniel: Jennifer, in the homeless community what are some of the strengths that people have as they try to realize their hopes and dreams? In what ways would you say that homeless people in Atlanta are particularly strong or particularly good at certain things?
Jennifer: I wouldn’t say nothin like that, I wouldn’t say they have a good healthy family but they probably do, you know they got good healthy parents that show them the light. You know and being on drugs and being a alcoholic I don’t think that’s a stretch in your life I think it’s a privilege because you need strength you need something to mentally you know, you need something to occupy your mind so you don’t look at things so stressed out. It’s like things bother you and that’s why people on marijuana so they can use the right words to you know, it’s like Tylenol to a headache that’s the way I see it, I don’t know nothing about no other drug but marijuana I see it like that. Because you know life is stressed out if you can change your thoughts from your immediate environment and think of something good then why can’t you look like somebody talking about God that’s who made the world you know, and you look at people you know they look like they have everything they need you know and wonder why you don’t have it. What makes life so different for you, and it just calms your nerves that’s all it do that’s all.
Daniel: Jennifer, when it comes to the homeless community what challenges and obstacles make it harder for people in the homeless community to realize their hopes and dreams? What holds people back in the homeless community?
Jennifer: All I know it feels better with a little money and if you got a disability check that’s a good challenge. I mean that’s a nice one challenges going to vocational school probably, winning the lotto, I keep thinking reunite with your family you know, that would be a nice challenge. I had got a retreat from a church you know one time and they sent me to up there in Athens Georgia, they had a complete retreat for a whole week. I was in the falls, I was on the trails, I was eating nutritional food, and I heard a lot of good spiritual people and I just rested in the Lord you know. That was a good one going on a retreat all I had to do was corporate and attend the meetings, eat, you know go walking they walk like 5:30 – 6:00 o’clock in the morning that was real good and we listened to Gospel music on the trails, and they had Athens University with the Georgia Bulldogs it was right behind there and I got to go to the college and look around. That was a nice one relaxing in the Lord enjoying his thing and something that I never really did before. So, I enjoyed that, it would be a good thing for me plus my disability check, plus getting my green card, those would be nice challenges things for me to experience.
Daniel: Jennifer, what are some of the things that make life harder for people who are homeless?
Jennifer: I really don’t know you know cause life don’t look like it’s hard too much It’s just like Trump say you know making a better space for somebody to live. They got numerous apartments over there the most expensive one you know they still have stuff like that, I seen my dad with all these issues and all these papers you know, I don’t know if he’s some part of some wicked organization or whatever it is. But I know burning down buildings, and bombing up things, and closing down markets and food, all this here stuff it happens but it’s not altogether happen here it seem like all you need is just win the lotto.
Daniel: Jennifer from your perspective what needs to be done so that the problems and the obstacles that homeless people face can be overcome, What needs to be done to overcome or solve the problems that homeless people face?
Jennifer: I know a lot of homeless people I really haven’t seen nobody in my situation before lifeless. And I don’t think . . . it’s when I had my social security card you know I was going down to the Labor Pool, just like I said I can’t get enough money to feed the homeless people but I have enough money so I could eat a good meal, I can change my clothes and you know that’s part of life too. Not walking down the street every day no rest, no place to sleep, you know, nobody to call on you know, I got to the place that when you call on God you know it look like everybody doing that and everybody they got stuff so you know. I don’t really know you know God and Lord all this here stuff you know, it’s good to pray and you know you have a religious head common sense told you that that’s the electricity in the world you know, you pray you tell Him thank you for life, thank you for there’s still enjoyment in life you know I seen somebody expressing joy in your life you know and just being thankful because that’s basically where it left me you know. Thankful right now I’m in here it’s warm and it’s raining you know when you out there and everybody going busy their way I still don’t have no place to you know. And why were you so . . . cause I was so thankful I was inside thank you for Matthew and him looking out for me. But I was in the NAA meeting they always say just for today, and just for today, for this second it looks like it’s okay. But it really don’t cause you don’t need to adjust your mind you know every hour just enjoy your mind right, I have to adjust my mind cause I’m on a porch, I have to adjust my mind cause I’m in the bathroom, It’s like is that what somebody else what doing before you no that’s not what they was doing before you, they had all the luxury they wanted in the world just for that word selfish
Daniel: Jennifer, imagine for a moment that you’re a powerful leader imagine you’re a decision maker who can really make things happen, as a powerful leader how would you change the system to help people in the homeless community realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives. Imagine you’re a powerful leader how would you change the system?
Jennifer: You know I would probably think like everybody else too, everybody else got it going on you know and you don’t need to change the system you just need to change the system for me it would say something like that. But in actuality you know people don’t have it bad as I do but they have it bad, and to each his own. As a powerful leader I really appreciate Donald Trump I think he’s cool I think he didn’t worry about cutting the work compensation check or cutting the social security check because everybody do that but they never act on it. Giving somebody $2 thousand dollars if you showed up on the job that day you know that’s like the man was giving away money because look how many people still working the Ford plants and all of them places and all just for today they got work and their regular check, and they have extra money showed up. I think that was pretty powerful and basically, if I had that power I’d probably do it like he did it.
Daniel: How did he do it?
Jennifer: Well, I don’t know how he did it but he did it and the government must have had some kind of outstanding money that they needed to put some use to it. And you don’t generally see that because if you get your social security checks a lot of people talk about you know when you work when I worked and they told me you got to pay into taxes they take so much tax out of my little meager checks and then they tell me at 62 years old then I can draw money from my taxes I paid. And when I do get my taxes I get $257 dollars a month you know that’s even less money than I was getting when I was working, and I hadn’t gotten no work compensation check, I hadn’t gotten no disability checks, as a matter of fact I hadn’t got no check at all, the only check I got is when I work for $2.79 an hour when I first working check. When I stopped working it was $5.75 an hour so in between that time it’s like a $3 dollar raise aww you know $3 dollars raise that’s like a kids lunch money a day. But at least you got a job at least you workin. Cause I would love to have a job today I’d love to tell myself I’m working but I ain’t got no social security card, and when I did have it you know what no job for me.
Daniel: Jennifer, I have one last question for you please. If you had a million dollars and you could spend it to help the homeless community in Atlanta, how would you spend that million dollars?
Jennifer: I don’t know, as I have a Black Lives Matter kind a attitude everybody know how to get money and gain money you know right now you got to be in the position that you know somebody that leading you that way. Got a million dollars who you gone talk to, wait for President Trump to come to tell you how to run your money, I go to the bank and get some kind of attorney to show you how to run your money, you probably could do that and invest a broker or something. How would you make the money back from the government you got to make money to make money you not making money because you get $5.75 an hour you don’t get money like that. That‘s like $200 – 300 dollars a week you know you talking about a million dollars an hour you got to be able to invest your money and some kind of something you know and who you gone to talk to, to help you. Say I’m talking to somebody and I had a million dollars and I could help somebody you think about getting something like Black Lives Matter kind of thing get a bus so you could takem from the shelter to someplace where they can eat, you know help out with the kids someway give em something to give them a good little holiday I mean everybody’s doing that for the homeless they doing it for they own self.
Daniel: Jennifer, is there anything else you would like to say?
Jennifer: Well, I was crying and weeping and carrying on when I first started but you know I look at my life and I really need help, I don’t know if you know I need the only thing I need in the whole world is my Green Card and I don’t know what kind of trouble that is I know it was a bother to begin with you and I know it’s a trouble now all because look how you done messed up somebody’s life. They still got their green card and enjoy messin up peoples life and you know talkin to the world, talkin to the TV, you know it’s absolute NO you know it’s the best thing in life for somebody else. That’s just the way it is, that’s just the way minimum wage is NO you can’t get no further than that No, that’s the way it look.