A story of hardship and hope
A story of hardship and hope
Seated: The Washington Family and standing: The Class of 74 and Trashco.
By Janice Hayes
According to the Counsel on Homelessness 2012 report, there are at least 3,801 homeless persons in Broward County. It is easy for us to dismiss the nameless, faceless, homeless persons we encounter each day as we commute. We even validate our lack of empathy for their homeless plight with myriad explanations to help justify our unsympathetic conscious. We contend that it is their fault due to laziness, substance abuse, bad choices or some other avoidable circumstance.
However, homelessness is a condition that does not discriminate, but plagues individuals, families and young innocent victims, too. John Washington III is the single father of three girls and one boy. The children range in age from five- years-old to 10-years-old. This family’s story of hardship and hope has unraveled over the course of the children’s young lives.
By all accounts, John Washington is one of the most caring, loving, and dedicated single fat-hers of all times.
He works odd jobs collecting and hauling strap metal to provide for his four children. Their estranged mother resides somewhere in Palm Beach county and rarely visits with the children.
When you meet Mr. Washington, he immediately begins to boast about his children. He smiles a wide grin and proudly enumerates each child’s academic records. “Jataya is the oldest, and she has earned the A-honor every year,” beamed Mr. Washington.
He goes on to give details of the other children’s academic successes. His eyes sparkled as he recounted that Jalita, his eight year old, Jukeia his five year old and John IV, his seven year old all do very well in school. John holds his children and playfully jokes with them about homework and chores.
Yet, beyond the good academic records, the family hugs and fatherly pride, the Washingtons lives with the bleak reality that they have no place of their own to call home. They all sleep in a small cramped 10X10 space in their grandfather’s already cramped housed.
It would seem logical that one of the many government funded social services agencies would intervene and provide this family with adequate, safe, affordable housing, and other services. Yet, Mr. Washington has sought assistance from every agency known to him, to no avail.
He has been turned down and even treated with contempt by the people he trusted to help his family.
The Washington family had almost lost hope in the goodness of humanity until they met the City-Wide Class of ’74 and a company called “Trashco” during the Thanksgiving holidays.
The Washington’s hardship has led to an unlikely union of benevolence between a private company and a Class Reunion.
The City-Wide Class of ’74 began meeting a couple years ago to plan their 40th Class Reunion Celebration.
During one of their planning meetings, Class member Char-les Moseley recommended that the Class members consider giving a Thanksgiving basket to a needy family who was not well connected to existing resources and social services. The Washington’s fit the criteria. The Class of ’74 chose the Washington family to fulfill their mission statement, “The City-wide Class of ’74 is a charitable organization whose mission is to preserve our legacy of community service by contributing to the educational, economic and social vitality of the community.”
Subsequently, Janice Hayes introduced the Washington family to Trashco, a local business that has demonstrated a robust commitment to the environment and the community. Trashco donated a Turkey and a $100 Publix grocery card to the Washington family for Thanksgiving. On Valentine’s Day the City-Wide Class of ’74 and Trashco met the Washington family and shared stories of hardship and visions of hope.
If you would like to help the Washington Family or to learn more about The City-Wide Class of ’74, please contact Janice Hayes (954) 677-9493. To learn more about Trashco contact John Wyche (754) 200-1925.