MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Imagine getting evicted from your home with a small child in tow, and no roof to sleep under at night. That's one local mother's story--she's just one in a large group of people who have a job but are homeless in Macon.
Since 2008, Jennifer Coley has had a really hard time. A string of bad luck, she says, that made her question her choices in life.
"I must wasn't doing something right, like, how did I let myself fall?," Jennifer says. Behind on her rent, the 24-year-old single mom was evicted, forced to sleep in homeless shelters. Her experience is a lot like Chris Gardner's, the man who inspired the film "The Pursuit of Happyness;" but sleeping on public bathroom floors was not an option for Jennifer.
"It's like you have something and then out of nowhere it can be snatched from you," she remembers.
Her 2-year-old daughter Zamaria wasn't old enough to understand what they're going through. Even with a steady job at Popeye's in Macon, Jennifer still wondered how she was going to feed and shelter her baby.
Suprisingly, Jennifer's situation is not uncommon. A caseworker with Loaves and Fishes Ministry in Macon tells us that many people simply fall on hard times and become part of that group that's known as the working homeless.
Mark Jones is a member of the Macon Coalition to End Homelessness. He was amazed at Jennifer's unusual drive to provide for her child.
"Jennifer seemed to have a little extra something, she came highly recommended by the Salvation Army, and that's not a common occurence," says Jones.
It was her unique zeal that got her a steady roof over her head at a transitional home on College Street in Macon. Jones says Jennifer was different from other cases he'd handled. She had a goal, and did the work to achieve it.
"There's really no excuse for anybody to be homeless or hungry in Macon, Georgia," Jones believes. He says that's because there are plenty of resources, like Loaves and Fishes, among others, to get people like Jennifer off the street...and on to a better life.
"Don't lose faith or give up on hope," she's learned, "because you never know what tomorrow brings."
Jennifer also tells me it's important for people not to judgehomelessness can happen to anyone and it's not always the result of poor choices. Right now, things are looking up for her--she's working toward going back to college.