“When I came to the Mission, I had no compassion and only cared about myself. I had been hurt too many times to count, and I wanted to take care of myself. Sunday Breakfast gave me my compassion back.” God dramatically changed Jerome’s heart. Jerome entered Sunday Breakfast broken and without concern or empathy for anyone around him, and today he is a man dedicated to serving others.
Some of Jerome’s first memories are being the family DJ. Late at night, his parents would wake him to put on a record and turn their home into their very own nightclub. Jerome, the youngest of eight children, loved the limelight and attention. He was five years old when he realized, “I love music, I love making people feel happy and like dancing when they hear the music I play for them.” A Philadelphia native, he especially fell in love with the sound of jazz leader Jimmy Smith, a Norristown, PA native, who brought the electric organ to jazz. After graduating from high school, Jerome SPRING 2021 Beacon Beacon VOLUNTEER STORY was fortunate to get a laundry factory job in the shipping and receiving department. With each paycheck, he bought a piece of DJ equipment. He was determined to make his dream a reality. After working hard, Jerome had his DJ debut at a local block party. In the hustle to pack up from the block party and still make it to work at the factory, most of his equipment was stolen.
Jerome would have to start again. Sadly, life did not get any easier over the next several months. One day after Jerome came home from working the factory’s overnight shift, he found that his mother had passed away. Jerome was just twenty-one years old. Within the same week, he lost his aunt. Devastated, he did his best to keep moving forward. Jerome worked another seven years at the factory with dedication, never missing a day of work.
His world came crashing down again when he was laid off. He was able to find a job at a local grocery store, where he worked for another six years. He struggled to find joy again. Jerome had an apartment with a roof leak, and after three years of complaints and pleads with his landlord to repair it, Jerome withheld his rent. Instead of fixing the leak, he was forced to leave. He came to the Mission after being evicted and was only concerned for his own needs. He wanted to get food, a bed, and be left alone.
“I came in lost, only caring about myself, but the staff was so nice to me,” Jerome shared.
“I told her music and that I have dreams of working in a radio station. She helped me get enrolled in Philadelphia Community College’s communications program.” Kelly also connected Jerome to services, he now receives social security, and he was approved for housing.
Moving toward stability for Jerome is more than a path toward education and housing. It was also his path to find joy in learning God’s unconditional love for him. He was a critical member of our Homeless Services team, volunteering in the kitchen and security areas. “Serving others makes you count your blessings and opens your heart.” Over the past six months, Jerome became an active participant in morning devotions, bible study, and weekly church services. “God has changed my life,” Jerome said with a smile on his face.
Jerome was baptized on February 8, 2020. It was a day filled with joy. “I am ready to see what happens. I am ready,” Jerome said with a smile.
Thank you for showing Jerome the love, compassion, and dignity from Jesus.