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Brenda McKinstry: Finding Hope

Tue, Oct 7, 2014

StreetWise vendor Brenda McKinstry writes about finding hope after homelessness.I became truly homeless in 2006 after a family custody battle that split our family in two. My sister and I were on one side, my son Alex sequestered away in Carbondale, my dad, my sister and my dad’s third wife on the other side. We have never reconciled.

My father decided that since he had custody of my son, Alex, I did not need to live in his house. I lost everything except my little dog, Cookie. Imagine one day you have a home, credit, car, horses… a life. Then, suddenly, nothing. Nothing works, the cars have been repossessed and you are in tears watching your little dog trying to get in to his old house because he doesn’t understand that if you step one foot on that property you will go to jail.

The situation was terrifying, heartbreaking, overwhelming. I did not know how to be homeless. Finally my sister let me move into a small room in the basement of one of the buildings she owns. I sat in that dark little room with Cookie and just cried. The abandonment, the break up of our family, my father’s cruel rejection when he said, “You and your sister are uninvited,” the pain I felt and the fear were just too much for me to handle. I also had health issues to deal with and eventually I just gave up and went back to drinking.

My sister ( who is now a big support) became fed up with me at that time and threw me out. Cookie was stolen by a crackhead and I moved into Humboldt Park and prepared to die by drinking myself to death.

I ended up in a hospital and went through detox and a series of nursing homes and then a one-day jail stay for a DUI.

And now I am here. Things are getting so much better. I have hope now, some friends, support, a good renewed relationship with my sister and I am getting housing where I can have a little dog again. I am also getting my teeth fixed thanks to StreetWise. There is so much more that I have received from StreetWise but space is limited.

So Thank You to all my customers and to StreetWise for their support.

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