By Lex McMillan

She was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in St. Croix, reared mainly by her grandparents and her father after her parents separated when she was young.  Married when she was only 18, she is now 61 years old, a mother of three grown children and grandmother to eight.  She was divorced when she was 31. She found her way to Agape House last fall after a social worker in York told her to get out of the tiny apartment she was renting because it was unsafe, and the landlord was negligent.

She has had custody of three grandchildren (11, 10, and 8) since October 2019 when the authorities in St. Croix removed the children from her youngest daughter’s home and charged her with neglect and abuse.  The daughter is now working to get her life straightened out so that she can regain custody of her children.  In the meantime, they are living with their grandmother in a two-bedroom apartment at Agape House.

Her son and older daughter have been supportive, but they have children of their own and demanding jobs.  She doesn’t want to burden them.  She wants people to see homeless people as human beings.  Homelessness is not always about being lazy or abusing drugs or mental illness.  She never imagined being homeless; she has always worked hard. The main problem is a lack of affordable housing for low-income persons.

Like many others, she left St. Croix in 2017 after the disastrous Hurricane Maria.  Living in constant pain, she needed a hip replacement but could not get it on St. Croix.  She came to Massachusetts where a sister lives and was able to get the surgery.  She still suffers from sciatica and arthritis in her knees.  She left Massachusetts because her sister became unbearably controlling.  “I had hip replacement, not brain replacement,” she said.

Despite her physical pain and her constant worry about her youngest daughter, she has a cheerful and chatty manner.  She loves Agape House.  “It’s like a four-star hotel,” she says.  She appreciates the love and support of the staff, but she quickly adds that they challenge all residents to be independent.  “They won’t let you be lazy here,” she says.  She expressed gratitude especially for the Adopt-A-Family Christmas program.  “It was the best Christmas ever” for her three grandchildren, she said.

She has a strong faith, a gift from the beloved grandmother who reared her.  She is confident that she will be able to leave Agape House before the year’s end, find an affordable place to live, and continue to support her grandchildren until their mother is able to resume their care.

She expresses confidence that God has been with her, caring for and guiding her through all of her challenges.  “If we will allow God to love us, He will,” she says.

The Adams Rescue Mission exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused, and addicted; to accelerate recovery and restoration to the least, last, lonely, and lost.  Lex McMillan is a board member of ARM.

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