My need and situation
I need help keeping my grandchildren in contact with their mother who is incarcerated. This includes gas money to be able to drive to the prison, a hotel room to stay overnight because it is far away, and money for phone cards, so they can hear her voice.
Meeting this need will help me because I am on disability, so taking care of the children is difficult financially. I don't have the extra money to pay for collect calls or the gas to get down to the prison.
My goal is to make sure my grandchildren know who their mother is. I want them to know that I am grandmother, and that they do have a mother, and that their mother loves them very much. She will not be in prison forever, and I know that when she gets out, it will be much harder for the children if they haven't been seeing her and hearing her. They need to know who she is now, and to know that she loves them.
I am raising my three grandbabies who are 9 months, 28 months, and 6 years old. Their mother was arrested in 2011, and she gave birth while in jail. I wanted to make sure that my grandchildren would always have a place to stay, so I took them in. I even picked up the baby from the hospital. I have been spending every cent on my grandbabies, but it is really hard, because I am on disability.
Right now, my biggest challenge is making sure my grandchildren don't forget who their mother is. I want them to hear her voice and get that voice planted in their heads. I want them to answer the phone, hear her, and for them to know it is mommy. They are so little that they really can't remember her, and it is so hard to bring them to visit. It is almost four hours each way just to visit her. And the truth is, I miss my baby girl, too. She will always be my daughter, and I miss her so much-- and I want to make sure her children know who she is.
I just can't even put it into words what it would mean to get this met. This would take some stress off of me. It would just mean a lot to me.
I think of myself mostly as a caring person. I like to think that I have a good heart and am very giving. I'm really sensitive. Since getting guardianship of my grandchildren today, I have cried and cried happy tears. This all means so much, and I know they will be stable and always have a home.
I'm most proud of raising my grandchildren and of my own sobriety. I have been clean now for 15 years and sober for 8. I just got my medallion this past week from my meetings. It makes me feel hopeful that even though I had trouble in the past, I could change. And that means that my daughter can, too.
I've worked at jobs including at United Airlines. I was a ticket auditor. I worked for the CTA here in Chicago. I worked for the Chicago Teacher's Union, too. Now I am on disability because of a heart condition.
Something interesting about me is I'm quirky. I have a great sense of humor.
My job title is Pro Bono and Staff Attorney. I have been in this position since April of 2012. My work involves helping incarcerated mothers, formerly incarcerated mothers, and the caretakers of their children. What I like about my job is I get to see families brought together.
In the future, I… Read more
Validated by Alexis from Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (What does this mean?)
Each need is validated by a nonprofit that knows the person and can verify that the help is necessary. Funds flow from Benevolent to the nonprofit, which then gets them to the person in need and lets us know how it went. Learn more »
I have known Vernisha for over 9 months now. She first came to CLAIM when her daughter was pregnant in jail, and she needed help securing guardianship of the baby once she was born. Since then, I have learned what a loving, wonderful woman she is.
I think meeting this need is important because these children are really young. There is a real risk of them not knowing who their mother is or remembering her if they can't have phone calls or visits with her. That might sound simple, but it really is not. Each phone call can cost $15, and the prison is almost 4 hours away by car. Every cent of this need would go toward keeping the children and their mother united.
This will move Vernisha's life forward by taking one less worry away from her. A grandmother shouldn't have to worry about her grandchildren having food, clothing, shelter and everything else and then have to also worry about them knowing who their mother is.
While Vernisha doesn't have much, what she has, she believes in sharing. I was walking with her outside, and we passed a homeless man. She not only gave him one of her last dollars, she also held his hand and encouraged him to come to drug treatment meetings. Her heart is just amazing. When she talks about her grandbabies she cries and cries in tears of joy. She is just so full of love.