• Rolling through life with nothing but a smile

    by Erika Fiske

    MONTEREY— It was a beautiful sunny morning at Window on the Bay. And there she was, a young woman stuck in the sand with her wheelchair, until another homeless person named Connor came to her rescue and pulled her onto the sidewalk.

    Black hair, blue eyes and only 20 years of age, Jo Lynn—who goes by Jade—now finds herself alone, homeless and unable to walk without pain. She boarded a bus to this area the end of December and arrived in January, still able to walk.

    “I came to finish re-inventing myself,” she said. “I want to love myself again, and heal from the chaos.”

    Jade’s upbringing was a little different from many kids in this area. She grew up in Chicago with a father who yelled and beat her on a regular basis. “It was hell living with my father,” she said. “He put my head through a car window, I had black eyes, I had to have my cheek stitched, and he compared me to a c—— and a whore everyday.”

    Despite her home life, Jade said she did well at school and began training at Le Cordon Bleu while a junior in high school, completing the 2½-year training in May of 2010. At that point Jade decided to find her mother, who lived in Alaska. She got a job at a first-rate restaurant there, The Miners, and thought she had her life together—until she discovered her mother was a drug addict.

    “She was cooking and distributing crystal meth,” she said. So Jade returned to Chicago and “was certified homeless by the State of Illinois.” Finally, a few months ago, she boarded a bus to this area with hopes of a better life.

    Until the accident, that is. Earlier this month, at 8:30 in the morning, she was riding her bicycle to get breakfast at the Salvation Army when she hit a light pole. It wasn’t until 1:30 the next morning that she was taken to Watsonville for treatment.

    “I couldn’t go to CHOMP, because I’m banned from there for the rest of my life. I was staying in an abandoned, $5 million house with 15 bedrooms next to the hospital when security showed up,” she said. The house belonged to a hospital executive, which led to the ban.

    When friends finally got her help at a hospital in Watsonville, Jade was found to have a shattered kneecap and pulled tendons, but no insurance. So she was given a knee immobilizer and crutches and sent on her way, she said. She was told to expect a lot of pain for the next two months.

    Jade wound up at Window on the Bay because the area is at least flat enough for rolling with the wheelchair. “Last night I slept by the ocean,” she said. “Sometimes I’m behind a building, and when I have money I can camp at the park or get a motel room.”

    Jade said she’s been on the waiting list for Hamilton House in Seaside, a homeless shelter, for three weeks. During the day she drops in at Safe Place, where she can get food, clothing and other help. She also attends Narcotics Anonymous, and continues to work on herself. “I’m going through the files of my life and deleting some,” she said.

    So how does she spend her days? “I see how far I can get with this wheelchair everyday,” she added. “And I smile as much as possible.” And with that, she rolled away.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 20, 2012

    Topics: Homeless Chronicles

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