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Community is the Home We Build Together Jewish Family Service of San Diego

Home is a foundation of safety, comfort, and love

Where we celebrate first steps and encourage second chances. Where we nurture big dreams and create family memories. It's where we plant our hopes for the future.

Yet for too many people in our community, home is shaky ground – a place they are trying with all their strength to return to or hold on to.

MEET ZOCKIE

“Looking back, I wonder how we made it.”

Through three years of homelessness, Zockie fought to keep her family together. By the time she entered the Safe Parking Program, she had almost given up hope.

Zockie assumed guardianship of her nephew and niece when they were just two and eight years old. Unable to afford daycare for little Tahj, she cut back her hours as a preschool teacher to care for him full time. With her savings depleted, and nowhere to go, she packed their belongings and moved into her car.

In the evening, Zockie would drive to the JFS parking lot to sleep for the night. She would lay blankets across the seats and play classical music for the kids to fall asleep to. In the morning, they would shower at the YMCA before Imani went to school.

A lot of afternoons they spent in the library. Sometimes they would go to IKEA just to look at the sofas and beds.

“I would tell them this was an adventure for us. We might be struggling now, but someday we would get back home.”

At JFS, Zockie worked with a Housing Specialist who helped her access resources and look for affordable housing. And through it all, she was fighting a court case to win legal custody of Imani and Tahj. It was granted in early 2018.

Three years to the day after moving into her vehicle, Zockie got word that she had qualified for an apartment. When she opened the door and saw it for the first time, she was too overwhelmed to speak. Her Housing Specialist had applied for a grant to get it furnished.

Today, Zockie relishes the sights and sounds of her new home. Imani plugging away at her typewriter. Tahj jumping on the trampoline in the backyard.

“After so much uncertainty, this is where they come and feel safe. They can relax and spread out here. They walk in, and there’s a pantry full of food.”

With Imani settling into 5th grade and Tahj starting kindergarten, Zockie is returning to her full-time job as a preschool teacher. As a family, they look forward to the little things. Cooking dinner together. Decorating pumpkins for fall.

“At the end of the day, it’s love that makes a family. These kids have all of me.”

Every day, we meet people facing challenges that feel impossible. We see them summon the strength to keep going. Your support helps families like Zockie’s establish the foundations they can build on.

Thanks to the generosity of Evelyn & Ernest Rady, all gifts made by December 31, 2018 will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $300,000.

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Credits:

"Floating above the suburbs" - Tom Rumble

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