When I first met Mikayla, my daughter had brought her over after school so they could hang out and make a musical.ly video like normal tweenage girls. She seemed like a nice girl and a good friend to my daughter. What more can a parent ask for?
When we left the house to take Mikayla home, both her and my daughter started acting strangely. It was as if neither of them knew where she lived. Eventually, I took Mikayla to another friend's house and the situation never sat well with me.
Mikayla came over to our house quite a few more times, each time wanting to go to a different friend's house after she left ours. This behavior was unusual, but what tweenager doesn't act unusually? I decided it was normal awkwardness and thought nothing more of it. "Maybe she just doesn't like her folks," I thought.
A few months after I first met Mikayla, my daughter came home from school distraught that her now close friend was suddenly moving away. Mikalya had come to school and told everyone that out of the blue her mother had decided to move them out of state, closer to Mikayla's aunt, and they would be leaving the next day. Now, this was in the middle of a school semester, with very short notice, and red flags were going up for me everywhere.
My daughter begged me to let her hang out with Mikayla that night, likely the last time she would ever see her again, and of course, I said yes. We got in the car. Finally, my daughter tells me where Mikayla has been living: the local homeless shelter.
It all started to make sense. The embarrassment about going home, the little talk about family life, wanting to be anywhere but there. As a person who grew up in a similar situation, I could completely empathize with her situation. Mikayla was demonstrating all the effects of poverty to me over the course of those few months, but I was blind to them.
My daughter and I took Mikayla out for one last ice cream cone that night. The girls were in good moods considering, but there was a heaviness in the air.
When we got back to the shelter to drop Mikayla off, I talked to her and her mom about where they were going and what their plans were when they got there. I was worried about Mikayla, and I told her to call or text me when she got there. I offered any help I could give them as they started this new journey.
Luckily, I had a few friends that lived close to where they were going. I told Mikayla that she could count on support from them as well. That seemed to put her at ease.
The next day Mikayla, her siblings, and her mom each packed one bag each and boarded a Greyhound to their new temporary home.
New Town, Same Problems
As anyone who has tried to escape the cycle of poverty can probably already guess, things didn't get any better for Mikayla or her family once they arrived in the new place. Mom had a hard time finding a job, she was rarely home, and Mikayla ended up not finishing that year of 7th grade. Mikayla would text me and my daughter fairly regularly, and I was happy to hear that she was in good spirits at least.
She started telling us how she had almost no food in the house. We'd order her family a pizza or Chinese food so they'd have something to eat while their mom was working or looking for work. It was a pretty depressing time.
When the new school year started, Mikayla told us that she had nothing to wear to school. She told me she'd wear the same thing every day, and hide it under a jacket or hoodie from the lost and found. Heartbroken by this, my daughter and I gathered up some of her older clothes and bought a few gift cards to send to Mikayla.
I will never forget how sad this made me for this very sweet, completely innocent 13-year-old girl. She wanted to work, and she did nothing to contribute to her situation. At a time where clothing and fitting in is the most important thing to a child, she had nothing.
We Can Help
It was this experience that made Equinox & Solstice a reality. With help from our many nationwide non-profit Allies, we can help end this situation for kids all across the United States. The effects of poverty that these kids face on a daily basis is by no fault of their own. As an ethical clothing company, we felt an obligation to do more.
Our Wear One, Share One program solves this issue. Mikayla was given a jacket because someone in her community simply bought a Northward Jacket from themselves.
You Can Help
Do you want to help change the lives of kids in your community who are in tough situations like Mikayla? Buy yourself or a friend a Northward Jacket, or sign up for our newsletter so you can see all the new products we offer as they become available. It's such a small thing that makes such a big difference.