She may not know know this, but Jayla was the first person I met when I came to volunteer at Dinah’s House. I remember her kind smile as she introduced herself. She was sitting at the table feeding a bottle to her sweet baby girl. She motioned for me to have a seat next to her and asked me how my day was and what brought me to Dinah’s House. I didn’t realize it then, but the spirit of community at Dinah’s House runs very deep with the women who enter its doors. Over the last few months I have seen and felt this quiet and reassuring community. As I have learned more and more about Jayla I have come to realize how significant this space has become to her and many other women. With her permission and a slight name change she allowed me to interview her about her life and how Dinah’s House has played a part.
Thanks so much for being willing to do this Jayla. I guess a good place to start is how did you first hear about Dinah’s House?
I had just moved here into an apartment. I felt really lost out here. I didn’t know anyone, I was lonely. After a couple days I heard a few mom’s talking about it at the bus stop and I was like hold up what’s this place?”
Can I ask about where you were before you were in Haverhill?
Sure. I was in a shelter in Lowell with my son. It was a tough time. I was in a shelter on and off as a kid with my mom. I never thought I was going to carry that with me through life. I was lucky I only had to be there for a few months before they found an apartment for me.
Did coming to Dinah’s House make a difference?
Oh definitely. It was a community right next to my house where other people from my neighborhood came. I suddenly didn’t feel like I was by myself anymore. I made friends here and my son had playmates. This place gave me resources. I have people to ask if I need something, people I can turn to. I feel like I gained a family.
What is one of your favorite memories here?
My baby shower. They threw a shower for me. I thought it was for other mothers too, but it was specifically for me. People who didn’t even know me were giving me things for my baby. I was blown away.
Now that you have this sense of community, how has that changed your hopes for the future?
Dinah’s gave me hope. It made things brighter and I have purpose and can dream of expanding my horizons. Things are starting to fall into place for me now. I might have a job soon. I’m starting to believe that to receive help and to help others is what my life is now about.