Virginia & Isaiah
Isaiah Gardner loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At four years old, he has already decided that he wants to be a scientist, and never turns down a chance to go to the park with his mom.
When Isaiah was an infant though, his family’s life was very different. His mom, Virginia, was trying to escape a relationship with a woman whose life had been consumed by drugs. Not long after Isaiah was born, Virginia fled her home in search of a safer place to raise her son. Strapped for cash because of her ex’s expensive drug habit, she and Isaiah were forced to live out of her car for three days before finding a friend (Covenant House client) to stay with.
Even though she had a roof over her head, paying for basic amenities like food and rent quickly became a daily struggle for Virginia. For various reasons, the young mom didn’t have a relationship with her family and thus was unable to ask them for help. She didn’t trust her friends to take care of Isaiah either, so she had no other option than to stay home with him rather than searching for work. One day, she finally caved in and allowed a friend to take care of Isaiah for a few hours while she was out. And then she got a phone call.
Remembers Virginia, “That day, I got a call from the police saying that if I didn’t get there in five minutes he’d be taken by CPS because I guess my friend was drinking.”
Fearful for her custody of her son, Virginia raced back home to care for him. Soon after, deciding that she’d had enough, she reached out to Covenant House and was placed in an apartment in housing through the Housing First program.
No longer worrying about how to pay rent, Virginia was able to purchase a car and pay off the remaining fines related to financial trouble incurred during her last relationship. She plans to stay home with Isaiah until he starts school in August. Inspired by her own negative experience as a child who was taken into protective custody, Virginia hopes to possibly pursue a career as a defense attorney for children who are taken by Child Protective Services. As she watches her son grow, she strives to make a more and more positive life for him, haunted by memories of the time when she almost had to give him up.
Says Virginia, “I want to own my own home one day. I don’t want to depend on a program for help forever. Right now though, this is what’s good for him. And what’s good for him is good for the future.”