Nikiah describes her boys as “loving and gentle,” while admitting they’ve taught her the meaning of patience. Both boys face challenges—Ricardo, 13, with autism and Rico, 12, with ADHD and a speech impediment.
Nikiah is determined to provide her children with stability because, she says, her own childhood was troubled. “My mom struggled. We were always going from shelter to shelter or being put out.”
Unfortunately, as an adult Nikiah, this time with husband and boys, experienced homelessness all over again. The death of her stepson, a victim of gun violence, threw her husband into severe depression, and he was unable to work.
In 2015, the family found housing through the DC Department of Human Services, which referred them to Friendship Place for help rebuilding their lives. Our case managers helped Nikiah address her most urgent concern: moving to a safer neighborhood. “I couldn’t let my sons out to play because there were shootings every day. It was so bad I was afraid to take the trash out.”
Now, says Nikiah, “We have a beautiful, lovely home. Friendship Place is the backbone for me and my kids. Ms. Smith [Friendship Place Youth Specialist] helps with my kids’ doctors’ appointments and getting the support they need at school.”
Nikiah’s older son has won gold and silver medals in the Special Olympics; her younger son is taking boxing lessons. “Raising them is the greatest joy of my life,” she says.