SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Jennifer Oxendine is walking through the halls of the place she now calls home. She moved to Syracuse six months ago from North Carolina with just her car and her children. Her journey, which hasn’t been easy, led her to the Chadwick Residence.
“It was a domestic violence situation,” said Oxendine. “I had in North Carolina and I got in my car one day and drove and this is where my car blew up on me.”
Perhaps that was divine intervention, because it marked the beginning of a new chapter, helping her and her three children get out of a dangerous situation.
“Being homeless was one of the situations, domestic violence, drugs, so I was the point where I was ready to go and I stepped out on faith, believed in God and lived,” Oxendine said.
She’s been clean for two years and to stay on that path, she knows the importance of her surroundings.
“I have a very strong support group of new people I never met and when it seems like your own people sometimes don’t want to support you, the strangers are the ones that will come and lift you up in the time of need,” said Oxendine.
You can feel that encouragement as soon as you walk inside the Chadwick Residence.
Words of empowerment line the walls, motivating each and every woman who walks through the doors. It’s a safe haven to provide supportive housing for homeless women and women with children.
“Some women are dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues and some women may have just lost their job and didn’t have family in the community and needed extra time to get back on their feet,” said Jenni Gratien, Executive Director of Chadwick Residence.
Housing connections, along with programs that focus on conflict resolution, financial education, nutrition, and employment all help create a sustainable lifestyle for those who need it most.
“I had a client who was from another country who came to our program from a domestic violence situation and had a son who was very sick and if they went back to another country, he wouldn’t have survived. He has a blood disorder that requires him to go to the hospital and she couldn’t just go home,” Gratien said.
But she could come here and become self-sufficient, starting a new journey, just like Oxendine has.
“I’ve always wanted to be a substance abuse counselor because I’ve been clean for two years and I know deep down inside that’s my passion to help people get back on the path like I did,” said Oxendine. “My kids are my motivation. I let them down so many times, I refuse, at the end of the day, to let them down again.”
Living a life of hope and purpose as she looks forward to a better future.
The Chadwick Residence houses 17 women and 10 children. There is a permanent supportive living component that leases apartments to other clients.
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For more local news, follow Jennifer Sanders on Twitter @JSandersNC9