Help and hope for woman, 62, raising newborn alone
Written by Julie Borgen, Twin Cities Media Relations Director for The Salvation Army Northern Division.
Every parent who has been up half the night with a newborn knows how taxing it can be. Now just imagine, you’re in your 60s, single, and a brand new baby with special needs has unexpectedly landed in your care.
Such is life for Sherry Rand, 62, of St. Paul. She is the guardian of a 6-month-old boy named Gabriel. Just days after Gabriel was born, his mother lost custody of him and he has lived with Rand ever since.
“Gabriel’s mother is a friend of my daughter’s,” Rand explains. “She was struggling with addiction and mental health issues. I tried to help her, but didn’t realize how bad things were.”
To make matters even more complicated, Rand is also the guardian of her 6-year-old granddaughter, Charlize. (Rand and both children pictured above, along with Salvation Army caseworker Ana Gonzalez.)
“I pray everyday that my daughter will step up to the plate and be the mom I know she can be,” Rand said.
In raising two small children alone, Rand quickly found herself feeling isolated and overwhelmed.
“I was so sleep deprived and frazzled, I didn’t know what to do,” Rand said. “I just say it was God’s plan.”
Finding Pathway of Hope
Thankfully, Rand met Ana Gonzalez (pictured left with Charlize and Gabriel), caseworker at The Salvation Army. Gonzalez introduced Rand to the Pathway of Hope program, which is designed to help build stability for families with dependent children.
“Sherry is just an amazing woman – she has a heart of gold, and I wanted to help support her,” Gonzalez said. “She would come in for the food shelf or our Friday Food Fair, and once I heard her story, I knew Pathway of Hope would be a good fit.”
Families enrolled in Pathway of Hope set their own goals and work at their own pace, as caseworkers like Gonzalez support them and connect them with other resources.
“They don’t do it for you, they give you the tools to do things yourself,” Rand said. “Having goals and accountability is huge. If you don’t have that it’s like running on a treadmill – you’re tired but you never get anywhere.”
In Rand’s case, that meant providing a listening ear, brainstorming together about healthy activities for Charlize, and connecting her with resources to help support both children on her fixed income.
“I now get money to support the children and social security,” Rand said. “God has blessed me.”
Making a fresh start
Rand’s new life is a major change. Just a few years ago, she suffered from homelessness and felt hopeless.
“I took care of my mother while she was dying of cancer, then a year later, my brother died and I just fell apart,” she explained. “I had been selling insurance and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t even feel safe driving, I was so distraught.”
Within two years Rand lost her home, just as her own daughter landed in drug treatment. She took custody of then 1-year-old Charlize and spent the next two years staying on the couch, or the floor, or anywhere a friend or family member would allow.
“I finally got into subsidized housing, literally across the street from The Salvation Army,” Rand said. “God worked a lot of miracles to get us here.”
Today she enjoys a stable home life and has built a new support system, all with the help she found at The Salvation Army.
“Sherry is just so strong, she is so faithful and such a positive person,” Gonzalez said. “I told her what I tell every family, the goal is you don’t need me anymore.”
“These children need me, that’s why God put me in their lives, and led me here to The Salvation Army.”