There is a warmth to Glenda that seems to relax the very air around her. She speaks in a slow, deliberate and thoughtful cadence. But behind the kindness in her eyes is a fatigue, a tiredness that comes with being a single mother of four.
A junior high teacher and former jazz singer, Glenda never intended to raise such a large family, but, the old saying is true, life doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
Eight years ago, Glenda was faced with a choice. She was letting her brother’s grandchildren, who were living with him at the time; spend the weekend with her and her daughter. Glenda’s brother told her he didn’t think he and his wife could keep and raise the children. His plan for the three children didn’t sit well with Glenda.
“He was only going to keep the girls and asked if their brother could be sent to live with me,” she said. “I said ‘no,’ I’ll take them all. I didn’t want them to be separated.”
She added, “My daughter was 16 at the time and wanted siblings. And I was the oldest of the siblings in my family, so I’ve always been very maternal.”
Her nieces and nephew moved in and began calling her “nanny mamma.” After she formally adopted them, she gave them the choice of what they wanted to call her; they chose to call her, “mommy.”
But, she soon realized she may have taken on more than she could handle.
“The oldest girl was nine, and she could read you and make you think she was wonderful. She was everyone’s princess, but there were problems,” said Glenda.
Her oldest niece was stealing and intentionally breaking things around the house.
“Our house was hell going through this,” she said.
After a lot of care and months of treatment, they were able to turn the situation around.
“Things are great now, she’s just a normal kid,” said Glenda. “But she needed a brick wall to run into, and that was me. I just kept praying for her.”
Everything seemed to be looking up for Glenda’s new little family when she was injured on the job last year and was out of work for three months.
Money became tight, and the family was evicted and forced to live in a hotel room.
According to Glenda, having to come to Upward Transitions, or anywhere, for help was difficult.
“I’m a professional person, I felt like I was suppose to be doing the helping,” she said. “I’ve contributed to United Way for 20 years, so it was really tough.”
“We were treated with respect and kindness,” said Glenda of her first visit to Upward Transitions. “The atmosphere was comfortable, the receptionist even remembered my name when I came back.”
Upward Transitions’ staff were able to help Glenda and her children with rent and utility assistance to get them out of the hotel and into a home. Upward Transitions also helped with food and gas to help them get back on their feet.
“It’s tough and it’s hard not to get depressed, but we’re grateful to have a roof over our heads,” said Glenda. “My children are healthy and happy.”
She added, “I don’t have the words, the help Upward Transitions gave my children and me…I’m truly grateful.”
As for the future, Glenda would like move into an administrative role at work and she’d like to put out a gospel CD single sometime. And she’s hoping to find someone to share her life with.
“I believe soon God’s going to send someone to me who thinks I’m the cat’s meow,” she said. “A good man, who likes children!”