“Until Aunt Net, I didn’t have a home.” Said Kivana Bradley. “She became my family.”
I sat in the living room on the couch of Jackie’s house, Kivana’s Provider, and listened to Kivana talk about where she had found her strength and how Jackie’s mother (affectionately referred to as ‘Aunt Net’) had changed become her HLADD provider at a point in her life when she had nothing and no one. “My real mom and dad passed away, but even before then I didn’t have contact with them because of all the abuse [I’d experienced] when I was a kid.” Kivana shared. “I didn’t want anything to do with them.”
While Kivana was sharing her story, Jackie politely excused herself to grab something from her bedroom. Upon returning, she sat back on the couch with an accordion style file folder. Jackie took out an obituary and handed it to me. “In loving memory of Mrs. Nettie Vinson” it read on the front cover. I glanced over at Kivana who was now looking at the obituary. Her face softened as she stared at the article.
“Do you miss her, Kivana?” I asked.
“Yes, I do. Very much.” She replied.
“What do you miss most?” I inquired.
“Going to church… and shopping.”
Kivana then went on to impart how pleased that Jackie had become her HLADD provider when Aunt Net had passed away. Kivana’s HLADD family has stuck by her. She lived with Aunt Net for over a decade and is now embarking on her life’s journey with Jackie.
“HLADD is all about flexible out-of-the-box solutions to trauma and aging caretaker situations. Our independent contractors allow for tailored home life experiences that work for the person served. That’s where we see the best being brought out in individuals, where they are happy and healthy.” Says Heather Schaefer, HLADD’s Program Manager. “It’s really about the opportunity to be acclimated to a family with a natural and consistent rhythm of life.” She explained.
Heather speaks to the improved emotional and mental health of people placed in home environments, in part by LADD’s quick responsiveness to crisis scenarios – making LADD a leader in the county with this level of safety supports. While speaking with Jackie, she attests to seeing just how much Kivana is a beneficiary of this service.
“I now have goals.” Kivana professed. “My dream is to live at Geier Apartments, and get a dog. I have a new job and I’m working with Jackie on managing my money, budgeting, and things like that.”
“Kivana will accomplish her goals.” Jackie backed her. “But, let me also say this… because I have been around Kivana so long, I know how the programs at LADD and living with Aunt Net has made her a more patient person. She is so giving. Her attitude has transformed over the years, and I’m proud of her.”
It is clear that Jackie’s belief in Kivana has had a profound impact on her. Kivana sat up straighter as Jackie spoke. Her chin tilted just a little higher and her eyes, already bright, seemed to smile. She was home. It seems too, that while Kivana is thriving, she has also had a profound impact on both Jackie and her late mother.
Aunt Net arrived to Cincinnati decade’s prior to meeting Kivana, escaping tragedy and racism. She left behind Todd Town, a community in Alabama built by freed slaves. Jackie shared that her mother took this legacy of compassion and community and applied it to her life in Cincinnati.
“When Aunt Net met Kivana, becoming her Provider was no surprise to any of us – it was who Aunt Net was, a caretaker.” Said Jackie. What was also clear to me is that Jackie had the same inherent inclination as her Aunt, for her and Kivana today have a solid relationship.
HLADD also provides respite services, which includes planned or emergency temporary care provided by certified providers. Services occur in the caregiver’s home to provide a short-term break to primary caregivers. In some cases, respite is used to provide a safe environment to those who need immediate care. Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well-being, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect.
This could not have been more exemplified than in Kivana’s case. Surviving homelessness to finding a family with the support of LADD services, and continuing to thrive as a productive member of society while accomplishing her personal goals.
“I have a lot of things I’m working on. I’m excited really about my new job and my birthday coming up.” Kivana shared. “I’m also in a relationship, but I put myself first.”
…”That’s why I don’t take any nonsense from anybody,” she continued. They have to come correct with me. I have things I’m trying to do. And I pray every day.”
“Kivana is a strong-willed faith-going person. She will have all those things she set out to accomplish.” Jackie asserted. It is hard not to believe that Jackie is right.