A HOMELESS SINGLE FATHERS TALE
By: Jonathan Castner
The day that Harold Johnson took custody of his two sons, Martino, age two, and Dimitrius, age three, was the day that he began to understand what being a father means. To him, being a father requires hard work, devotion, sacrifice and most importantly, love. The kind of love that allowed Johnson to face joblessness and homelessness as he rebuilt his life to give his sons a better future.
It all started in November. Shortly after Johnson took custody of his sons, he found his baby-sitter was involved in “Bad stuff”, and was unfit to look after his boys. Without any alternatives, he quit his job to look after Martino and Dimitrius. His money ran out as quickly as his daycare options.
By Christmas, he was forced to move with them into the C.O.T.S. homeless shelter. Although the shelter kept the boys warm and fed, the limited hours of its daycare program did not make finding a job any easier for Johnson.
“I can’t be a role model just sitting round,” he said, surveying his situation at the Detroit shelter.
Finally after three months at C.O.T.S., Johnson found odd jobs and scraped together enough money to rent a house on the East Side with three other people. The house was totally bare, but it was a new beginning. Over the next few months, with the help of his odd jobs, Johnson added curtains, beds, and a refrigerator. Slowly the house became a home.
Mario Jackson, a longtime friend, thinks that Johnson understands what parenting is about.
“Some people don’t believe in sacrifice, but he sacrifices for his kids,” Jackson says. “He don’t have anything, but the kids do.”
“I’m trying to make up for everything that has happened,” Johnson said.
“But more than that,” Jackson adds, “he truly loves his kids.”
Finally, after months of searching, Johnson found both a job to pay the bills and someone to look after his sons. Recently, Johnson reunited with Toya Elias an old girlfriend.
“I dreamed about this,” said Johnson, “for all of us to be together.”
With their plans for marriage, the fulfilling of Johnson’s dream of building a family for his sons, seems a reality.
As Harold Johnson continues to rebuild his life, he will spend each day with the sons who inspired him to take a close, hard, happy look at fatherhood.