Preschool teacher Dana Cruse still remembers the moment she first saw 4-year-old Jenna. The little girl’s mother, Bethany, dropped her off in Dana’s classroom, kissed her head, and said, “I love you, sweetie.”
Jenna never replied.
The sweet little girl is nonverbal and on the Autism spectrum, but that doesn’t mean she can’t communicate. Her precious smile and infectious laugh immediately captured Dana’s heart.
“I’ve followed Jenna around my classroom for eight weeks now, and it’s safe to say I’m completely infatuated with her,” Dana said. “I would describe her as curious, goofy, and clever. She loves to paint, climb, and organize toys into collections. She loves to ride the school bus, read books in our library, and be chased around the playground. Her smile and laughter bring joy to everyone around her.”
But there was something about little Jenna that Dana couldn’t shake. She reached out to Bethany about it, and that’s when she learned the heartbreaking truth.
Bethany had been living in Texas with Jenna, her two other daughters, Emma and Kenna, and the girls’ father. When Jenna was diagnosed with autism, Bethany stopped working so she could support Jenna full time.
Around the same time, the girls’ father became addicted to drugs, lost his job, and was incarcerated.
For two years, Bethany struggled to make ends meet. Finally, wanting to protect her daughters and give them the best life possible, she took the girls to Colorado where some family friends had promised to help them out financially.
However, just weeks after arriving in Colorado, the friends pulled their support, leaving the family of four homeless.
“Each day, they line up at the homeless shelter at 3:30pm,” Dana shared. “Sometimes they get in and sometimes they are left to sleep in the car. From their nights at the shelter, the three girls’ heads have been infested with lice, time and time again.”
Despite all they have been through, Bethany makes sure she takes her daughters to church each Sunday and does everything she can to give them the best life possible.
Bethany told Dana she is desperate to begin working full time again, but it’s nearly impossible to do when she has to line up at the shelter every afternoon and keep her girls home from school whenever they have lice.
Heartbroken at everything this precious family has been through, Dana wanted to do something to help. She decided to set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to get the family their own home.
“My dream goal is to help Jenna’s family move into a two-bedroom rental home before Christmas,” Dana wrote on the page.
“During the holidays, this family deserves to be encompassed by faith, love, joy, comfort, and stability. Giving Bethany and her girls a stable place to live will allow them to make everlasting changes and get back on their feet.
“A stable home life will be incredibly beneficial to Emma, Kenna, and especially Jenna. With this bit of control back in their lives, there will be time for the girls to explore their hobbies and passions, and Jenna will also be able to receive the therapies she needs to thrive.
“My biggest wish is to witness Jenna telling her family that she loves them someday.
“Bethany is one of the most loving mothers in the world and will do anything for her daughters. I hope we can all help her give her children a home.”
If you would like to help get Bethany, Jenna, Emma, and Kenna into a new home by Christmas, you can donate to their GoFundMe. Dana says all donations and prayers are appreciated.
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