MOREHEAD CITY — When single mother Dianna Godette, 41, lost her job last year due to an injury, she and her three teenage children ended up homeless and split apart among family members in order to survive.
They were living apart last Mother’s Day. However, this year she and her children will celebrate the day together after being reunited thanks to Family Promise, a nonprofit that houses homeless families at county churches on a rotating basis.
“I wanted to get my kids back together because they needed me,” Ms. Godette said Friday as she sat in the Family Promise day center. “It was tough having them split among family. I moved into Family Promise in October and they have blessed me and my kids. I’ve gotten a lot of help here. I’ve gotten a job and hopefully in a couple of weeks we will be moving into our own place.”
Family Promise Executive Director Sandy Giacobbi said when Ms. Godette contacted her last fall, she knew she had to help.
“She called me and was desperate to get her kids back under one roof,” Ms. Giacobbi said. “This is a great family that ended up homeless because of no fault of their own. Homelessness has many faces and that’s why Family Promise exists, to help families like this.”
Ms. Giacobbi said the novel coronavirus pandemic has presented additional housing challenges because churches that host families have temporarily closed their buildings due to the pandemic.
For now, Ms. Giacobbi is allowing the Godettes to stay at the Family Promise day center, where families normally come during the day to receive additional services. There is a kitchen, laundry room, living room, bedrooms, restrooms and offices.
“When the pandemic hit, we went into immediate lockdown so we opened the day center to this family,” she said. “We had just placed two families in housing, so fortunately we only had one family still staying with us. They have been great through this whole crisis.”
While churches would normally house and feed the family for one week on a rotating basis, Ms. Giacobbi said for now, churches have been providing money to Family Promise to purchase groceries.
Ms. Godette said she’s grateful to have a roof over her family’s head.
“I just thank God that they’re here with me and I’m with them,” Ms. Godette said of her children.
Her youngest son, Sa’Quan, 13, said he’s thankful to be with his mother this year for her special day.
“We weren’t together last Mother’s Day, so I’m happy,” Sa’Quan said. “Mother’s Day is about appreciating your mother and thanking her for everything she does for you and honoring her.”
Her 16-year-old son, Se’Von, agreed.
“It’s great being together and celebrating the mother that birthed you,” he said. “I’ve also learned to accept what’s going on in my life right now.”
As well as celebrating their mother, the teens have grown to consider Ms. Giacobbi as a “second mother,” according to Sa’Quan.
“She’s a really nice woman,” he said. “She has a great personality and she’s always looking out for me.”
“She’s a nice lady,” he said. “She’s got a great sense of humor but she can be serious when she needs to be, just like a mother.”
Ms. Giacobbi admitted she regards many of the children who have passed through Family Promise as her second children.
“One girl still calls me Mama Bear because I will fight for them when I need to,” Ms. Giacobbi said. “I had someone get me a desk plaque one time that said ‘Mom Boss.’”
Ms. Giacobbi said she tries to create a family atmosphere for the children.
“I talk to them like a parent and we have family meetings,” she said. “I always like to meet in the living room because when I was growing up that was where my family used to have family meetings.”
Ms. Giacobbi said she’s looking forward to the day when churches will once again open their doors, but for now she will continue offering shelter to the Godettes and helping others who come to the center for assistance.
“We do outreach to people who formerly stayed with us and other families who need help,” she said. “We’ve had some people come here looking for food, and we’ve helped them.”
Ms. Giacobbi thanked the churches and others who have helped Family Promise weather the pandemic.
“We had put out a call for nonperishable food, and churches responded,” she said. “We also had asked for DVDs so the teens would have something to do while they’re here. We now have a DVD library.”
Those interested in donating to Family Promise can mail checks to Family Promise, 1500 Arendell St., Morehead City, NC 28557.
Those wanting more information or who prefer to donate online can do so at familypromisecarteret.org.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.