“When you talk about somebody who’s dedicated to the Matrix community, that’s me,” says Ernestine Moore, who currently serves as a volunteer for The Matrix Center.

A survivor of abuse, disability, and destitution, Ernestine’s story is one of strength and resilience.

“My life was dark before I came here,” she said.

She worked for transportation until she was involved in a car accident, leaving her disabled and unemployed. She and 15 others were living off of $200 a month, in a deteriorating house. With no money to pay the bills, they had to borrow water from their neighbors. They used a kerosene heater as a stove, paint buckets as toilets, and wooden boards pinned up by nails as makeshift doors.

“The hard part was having grand babies in the house and watching DTE come and cut the lights off in the winter time,” she said.

Despite her efforts, “I still could not get help. For the life of me, I could not get help.”

After receiving word that her son’s cousin was shot and killed by gang members, Ernestine decided she had no choice but to get her kids out of that situation.

Her role at The Matrix Center began when she moved across the street from one of the Matrix Head Start centers a few years back. She first stepped foot inside after learning about a need for volunteers. Her relationship with the center, however, became mutually beneficial; she received food, clothing, plenty of hugs, and a sense of community. After struggling with a disability for many years, she also began restoring much of her physical strength.

One of her fondest memories at Matrix is discovering the clothing closet at the Center. Nobody had been attending to it, and so she took it upon herself to straighten it up and “bring some light to it”.

Ernestine has been an active member of the “Matrix family” ever since. She has spread positivity through hugs, potlucks, and decoration expertise.

Outside of her role as a volunteer, Ernestine enjoys caring for her grandchildren who have started joining her at the Center. She also wrote a book, titled “Casualty of Silence,” where she speaks out about her struggle as a victim of child abuse, and how she has learned to cope.

Today, Ernestine continues her journey of physical and emotional healing with the love and encouragement of the Matrix family.

“It’s like I was supposed to be here,” she said. “I finally found my place.”