Jasmine discovered Matrix Human Services in late 2018, when her then 1-year-old daughter began attending our Head Start Birth-to-5 Program at our Plymouth location, one of 16 Head Start Centers exclusively operated by Matrix Human Services in the city of Detroit. As a single mother of 3, Jasmine was doing the best she could to provide for her family with her income alone, but it has not always been easy.
“Matrix has done a lot for my family. I love them. From the time my daughter started all the way up to this year, they have been wonderful to me… being that times were getting harder and [my daughter] started pre-school, a lot of things from the program has really helped me.”
In October 2019, Jasmine’s furnace broke down, and after mentioning this to her Matrix Family Advocate, Ms. Cynthia Withers, a new furnace was installed within 2 weeks thanks to our partnership with DTE and Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics (SEEL).
“They fully replaced it and gave me a brand new thermostat, a digital one. It’s so much better because the thermostat is programmed so we don’t overrun it. “
As 2020 began, and the COVID-19 pandemic altered everyone’s lives, Jasmine was feeling more pressure to make ends meet. However, Matrix responded by providing our Birth-to-5 families in need with free donated food thanks to our partnership with Atlas Wholesale Food Company, Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, and Renaissance Head Start. Jasmine became one of 650 families who benefitted from this partnership, allowing her to order food online and then drive to the designated Head Start location to have it placed in her car for her by volunteers and Matrix Staff.
“I love that program… that’s a really helpful program. They have variety for me because I’m vegan but my kids still eat meat so I can get the fruit and the veggies… I love Matrix honestly… It helped my family more than they could ever know. We got hit hard this year. My resources from Matrix this year have been wonderful… I survived this year through Matrix.”
Jasmine also mentioned how the food distributions also included personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, as well as cleaning / sanititation supplies.
“I don’t get food assistance because I make too much as an income, so my benefits were cut. So for the last two months, honestly, [this] is what I’ve been making it off of. It’s been lasting me because there’s not that many of us, so the packages of meals I would get, and the cleaning supplies, the masks, were very helpful because I have two little ones and running out the door and leaving them with the pack in the car is so much help.”
When the holidays began to approach, Jasmine also benefitted from a special food distribution specifically for Thanksgiving, which included a Turkey, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, soda, and more thanks to our partnership with Higher Hopes. Jasmine was one of 85 of our most in-need Head Start families who received the Thanksgiving meal distribution.
However, once Christmas was approaching, Jasmine was concerned about being able to provide gifts for her family. That is when she learned that her family was “adopted” for our annual Angel Tree holiday gift program, so each member of the family including herself received a gift box packed with age-appropriate treats and goodies.
“It was really overwhelming. Very overwhelming. I really didn’t have much to do with my kids. Actually, we really didn’t have anything planned. I kinda was winging it, and when I got the box, it gave me something to do with them with the time I had off of work because I really had nothing.”
Jasmine explained further how the Angel Tree gift boxes gave her something to do with her family during the holiday break.
“We received a couple things that we actually used to bring in Christmas actually, like the chocolate, and the art kit, and the candle makers. We used the chocolate for the movie night we had. And we used the art because we did the color pages, and we did it coming into the new year for our vision boards. We used the art kit for our vision boards and we used the candles to pray around our vision boards.”
Jasmine explained how the vision boards she made with her family were very important to her after such a difficult year.
“The vision boards are what everyone wants out of this year and what they want in general as far as life goals. So, my youngest two wanted to travel. One wants to go to Universal Studios. The other wants to go to Great Wolf Lodge which we will be doing in April. And my oldest, she just wanted to be invest in music and to branch off her TikTok this year.”
Finally, Jasmine summarized the importance of what the Angel Tree gift boxes meant to her and her family.
“I loved it. I utilized it in the best ways that could help my family… I’m very appreciative of it. Without it, I would probably still be stressing. And it honestly brings families together if you take that time to look at what’s in the box and how to use it. It’s not just something somebody picked and said ‘here’, it’s really things you can use, because I still use everything I got out of the box, even the candles we made.”
Not only did Jasmine and her family receive our Angel Tree gift boxes, but they were also given Walmart gift cards to help with essentials.
“I had two gift cards for Walmart that really helped me. I got more than just one gift for my kids. They got everything they needed from a bed for my daughter, to the Legos to get them to interact with each other and to build. I came up with the idea from my son. He kept building with paper and cardboard, so I bought him some Legos to see what he could build and my kids, they all use the Legos… I got all my kid’s headphones for school so no kid’s class would interrupt the next class. I ended up getting a table for them to sit at, so no one is in bed laying down during class.”
Jasmine remains in contact with her Family Advocate, Ms. Cynthia Withers, who has been so instrumental in making sure the needs of her and her family are met, including referral for roof repair services during 2021.