Women’s Unity Movement presents the third of our TRUTH Series; the focus of the third segment being discussing Homelessness. In this segment we will hear from 4 inspiring, positive and brave diverse men and women who will each share their own personal stories on living with Homelessness. I pray this segment educates many whom come across it and that it also helps give strength to those facing the same or a similar obstacle at present.
My intentions for all various segments of the TRUTH series is to educate others who may not be aware of such issues, whether it’s because it has never been a challenge they themselves have faced, to educate those whom are aware but choose to ignore the issue/s and lastly to help encourage others in being brave in speaking out. As we know, knowledge is key.
I would like to introduce you all to our second guest whom is also a good friend of mine; Jauzlynn McCormick. Jauzlynn is a 27-year-old LA based Puerto Rican / Mexican woman living with 16 illnesses as well as a Benign brain tumour. Apart from all her struggles and battles throughout life thus far, Jauzlynn has found a lot of happiness in pursing her passions; she is an Artist, a Homelessness and Disabilities Advocate and a Makeup Artist. Here’s her story….
Many people are quick to dismiss the homeless as lazy and undeserving. Many people say, “They can get a job, they did this to themselves, they allow themselves to stay in this position and it’s their fault why they are the way they are.” Now even if this was true, what gives us the right to say no to a human in distress? What makes us a better human saying no to someone who is in need? For someone who may have fallen and can’t get up just yet. Now we all have one thing in common; we’ve all been there before. We’ve all been in need before, we’ve all needed help before and we’ve all been down before. There’s truly nothing that makes us different than a homeless person. All these differences that we see on the surface are material. There is such a stigma and many stereotypes to what homelessness is or what homelessness looks like or may be; but in reality, we are all people that deserve an abundance of life regardless of our circumstances.
Now I figured this out at a young age. My life hasn’t always been easy and regardless of what I choose to show people and what people see, my life hasn’t always been what it may look like. Now as humans, people make judgements every day. People may look at me now and see a city girl, living in the land of dreams, in Los Angeles; a place of hope, a city where people aspire to live and fulfil their dreams. A place everyone wants to be. A place where I am extremely grateful to be born and raised in, but people don’t see the darkness that is hidden in our city. Just a few blocks away from huge corporations and where celebrities lay their heads, we have a city amongst itself called Skid Row. This is a community of where people end up when they’ve lost it all or are suffering from a mental or physical disability and didn’t get the help they needed. Homelessness is a real thing, hardship is a real thing and it can happen to anyone.
Now as for me, I have experienced it all. When I was born my mother knew there was something wrong with me. I’m the oldest of five children. My mother had me at a young age and when she found out I was sick, she had a decision to make; the hardest decision a mother could ever experience. She had to decide to keep me by her side and go through it together or allow this to break us and me potentially grow weak and lose my life to my debilitating diseases. My mother chose to raise me. When I was about eight I was diagnosed with 16 diseases. Some of these diseases I can’t even spell or pronounce and some diseases that some of us may know like Lupus, Kidney Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hypoglycaemia and Esophagitis. That’s to name a few familiar and the ones that affect me most.
My mother had to put me in physical therapy as a child to fix some nerve damage on the left side of my body. My mother always tells the story to me when she realized I was different and knew that I was always going to find a way to help or heal others to my best ability. She says when I walked into the building to my appointment I saw there was children much worse than me and I asked her why are they the way they are? My mother told me they’re no different from me and you they just have to try a little harder. She said I had this look in my eyes of agreement with her and from then on, she knew I would always treat people as is.
As I grew up, at an early age, I was going to churches and doing small missions on practicing giving back to others. It was always something instilled in me to always give and treat people with the upmost respect and kindness. When I got to an age where I can officially go out on my own, on a larger scale and do more I started working for multiple non-profits in LA and giving back wherever I could. We went to many different blocks in LA, different cities and they all needed something different but we’re all still one in the same with all needing a little love and healing.
When I was in high school I experienced my own homelessness for the first time. I never grew up in wealthy areas and when I once did, my family wasn’t the wealthiest. My father had a gambling addiction and my parent’s relationship wasn’t always the healthiest, but amongst that my mother always had a way of making things better even when they weren’t the brightest days. My father would spend months of rent without our knowledge and we come home to a padlock on our doors or policemen escorting us out of the property. We’ve also experienced living in just a shell. A roof over our head but no water, no gas and no electricity. So, we’d light candles, camp in home and figure out what we’re going to eat feeding a family of 7 people. We’d visit other people’s homes, gyms or convenient stores to take showers or go restroom.
During these hard years, when I was 18 I got diagnosed with a brain tumour and my other diseases were in a stage called a “flare up.” A flare up is when my diseases are not stable and anything can happen. As life called it at the time, my body decided to take a turn for the worst. For a year we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I can just see my body withering away and my mind getting weaker. The doctors had no idea what was wrong and couldn’t figure it out, which gave me no hope, but with perseverance and my resilience, I stood strong. My weight dropped down to 78 lbs at my lowest point in my life as an adult. I could no longer eat, stand or sit too long and I started suffering from severe memory loss putting a student of nothing lower than a 3.8 GPA on academic probation for such awful grades. This was my lowest point. I had a choice to make either I fight and I live or I allow myself to die. I chose to live.
Being at the sickest point in my life taught me everything I ever needed to know and teach. This was as low as you can go as a human. My health wasn’t there and my family was homeless. It took about a year and a half to finally get better and start eating everyday again. I trained myself how to eat again and I pushed myself to eat full meals again. I started to gain weight, took time off school to get better and focus on bettering my life to my best abilities. In this time, I grew patience and gratitude. I lost everything in a matter of a few years. My family and I were suffering but we never gave up. When I got better, or at least to a good point with my health I decided to start my own non-profit and collaborate with other non-profits and really focusing on stigmas and stereotypes of homelessness. I also became a strong advocate for people with mental and physical disabilities. I’ve put together and hosted my own events with other non-profits and created a bond between people that have survived the worlds cruellest hardships.
Whether it be homeless or disabled in some way. I’ve learned that life can disable you and try to stop you but it can never break you unless you allow it. I started doing “motivational” speaking after talking to a journalist during one an event I attended to end homelessness. She asked me “Why do you do what you do.” I said to her “Because I can.” I then explained to her that even with all the glitz and glam that surrounds us in LA I didn’t always have that. She then proceeded to hear me out about my story and said I would love to have you on my radio show and I want people to hear you. From that one radio segment, my whole life changed after that. I had people come out to my events after that, of all walks of life and said they felt the need to start helping because they would make excuses because of their life circumstances and felt they didn’t have much to give when they didn’t have much themselves but after soon realizing we could all give a little and that would go a long way.
Soon after that people started asking me to speak, to come out and help, to try to inspire others to keep moving and keep loving no matter what circumstances they may be facing. With homelessness I learned, yeah we may be eating in the dark but at least we’re eating, with sickness I learned, I may die today but at least I can die happily because I was always kind, healing and loving towards others, I can be sick today but I can be healthy tomorrow, I may have $5 to my name but I can give you $2.50 or we can eat together or I may only have a shirt on but I can give you my shirt because I still have my body. All these things we forget until we are stripped of everything we thought we needed, but in reality, all you need is love and the mindset of “I can.” With resilience, perseverance and love you can conquer anything.