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Man Down

Organized by: Devin Latimore

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Devin's Photo

EVENT DATE Jun 19, 2015




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In 2009, after the birth of my son Nasir, I was permanently laid of a job I held for 7 years that more than covered my monthly expenses. With a criminal record from a poor decision made years before, getting another job never happened. I was on unemployment for two years. I did odd jobs and anything I could to try to make additional money. I started my home based bakery business so that I could be the father I never had. I always planned to be a full time father, and to do so no matter how hard it got. In 2013, our minivan suffered permanent damage to its engine, rendering it useless, so we no longer had a car. I began to use a system of bike trailers and a bicycle to transport my children around and pick up groceries. At the end of 2013, I rented my home (the house I moved out of to live with my wife after marriage) to a deaf woman and her three young daughters, despite her lack of having a security deposit of any sort. I sympathized with her and allowed her to move in my other home, thinking it would provide additional income for my family. She, my tenant, never paid one cent, and up to that point before she moved in, my mortgage was on time and my credit was slowly getting better. In the beginning of 2014, my three youngest children and I were abruptly ejected from our home one cold snowy morning, after a planned fight instigated by my now ex-wife (my children's mother). With no where to go that cold morning, my sister came and picked us up, and allowed us to stay at her two-bedroom apartment, where her and five other individuals already shared space, so with me and my three, there was ten of us sharing this tiny two-bedroom apartment. For nearly 3 months, me and my youngest three all slept on one futon sofa bed, and not one day did their mother come to "take them home" and allow them to live in the house they all grew up in since their births. They spent the vast majority of their days with me and my relatives. My ex-wife received food stamps for our children but she gave us very little of what was given to her by the state assistance (over $600 monthly) so I had to use the little bit of money I made from baking to buy the food we needed. In April we moved into a home of our own. I was given the opportunity to purchase a home under a lease purchase agreement that would span 1 year. If at the end of the year, I was not able to obtain a mortgage, the owner had the right to sell the property to another candidate. In the middle of the year, I received notice that our custody court hearing had been pushed forward. So I attended the hearing, told the truth, and was awarded primary physical custody of my three youngest children. Despite not having a car, despite the weather, despite the distance I have to travel, I take my children on ALL of their various appointments. I originally planned on home schooling all my children, which had begun while living with my ex-wife. After we were put out, I enrolled my middle son in Agora Cyber Charter School. Neither he or I liked it very much so, I then enrolled my middle child into Kindergarten at DCS, and he began the next school year. Being the dedicated parent I was, I took my son to school half the week either by bus or walking or bike, and I picked him up every day for almost the entire school year until things really got bad. Everyday I would sit and do homework with my son, practicing his reading, writing, and other assignments. I was still baking to provide the majority of my income (many days I would bake overnight while my children slept and would be up for 24 hours or more regularly) and making deliveries by bicycle, or by bus, or train, no matter how cold or hot or dry or wet it was outside. When my children needed to be taken somewhere, I loaded them into the bike trailers and rode sometimes 10 miles to our destination, tired, and sweaty. The end of our lease arrived (June 1, 2015) and my credit was worse than ever because I hadn't received rent from my tenant at all, and the bank had scheduled foreclosure on the house. Since my lease stipulated if I couldn't buy it after the year, the owner could exercise the option to sell to someone else, which is what he decided to do. My only option was to move into my previous home (despite its foreclosure status), which had been vacated by the tenants who left me with a water bill of more than $2,000. Shortly after the home was vacated by the previous tenants, it was broken into and vandalized! Someone had stolen all our our plumbing and broken the water heater in the process... The home was secured and the same day that I moved my families things into the home, it had been broken into again! The thieves this time took anything made of metal, which included much of my bakery equipment, personal items such as my guitar, thousands of dollars of tools, and they even took my sons Lego toys which he had just received for his 7th birthday. Their theft has left me with no other decision but to temporarily close my business (which also stops my income) to allow for some time to regroup. To ensure my son gets the assistance he needs with homework, I enrolled him in STEM and pay for it by the skin of my teeth each week, but he loves it so its worth it. There is much more detail to this story, but I did my best to keep it as short as I could without leaving out any important detail.


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