When Angelique Roland and Michael Jones lost their living arrangement in South Philly, they ventured with little optimism to Center City with their two small children in tow.
“We went down to LOVE Park, because a couple people that work for SEPTA know my family, but they weren’t on shift,” Roland said. “So the best thing that we could do is get boxes and get behind the welcome center where we could find a corner to actually block them, to actually keep them warm.”
Then her 2-year-old son Jeremiah wandered off barefoot, drifting away from the makeshift cardboard shelter in the middle of the night. Roland suspects he heard skateboards around LOVE Park and wanted to catch a glimpse. A SEPTA officer later found Jeremiah, and Department of Human Services officials eventually took custody of him and his 4-year-old sister.
Little did the family imagine that the child’s small journey would bring such blessings.
The advocacy group Chosen 300 Ministries started a fundraiser after news of the found child prompted questions about the family’s situation. The group pulled in $12,000 in 15 hours — enough to pay for a year of housing. Then Marriott Hotels said the family could stay for a week while they look for the right apartment. Impact Thrift stepped up to furnish their new apartment. And the support keeps flowing.
“It wasn’t our fault that we ended up in that predicament,” said Roland said. “There was nothing that we could do but do our best. The fact that all the shelters were full, and that they called to clarify that they were full.”
Roland’s kids have been placed with DHS until the family is fully settled down.
Any other money, or gifts, that come in will be directed to getting the family back on their feet, said Chosen 300 executive director Brian Jenkins. He said the goal is to transition the family to a more well-adjusted life, and Chosen 300 will provide additional services toward that goal of making them self sufficient.
This family isn’t alone, Jenkins said.
“The need continues over and over again,” he said. “The families, people in tragedy, people suffering from poverty and hunger exist every day. So we need the help of the community.”