Kiesha’s Story: A New Beginning

2020 was one of the most challenging years of Kiesha’s life, and she hasn’t had an easy life by any means.

Originally from New York, the high cost of living brought Kiesha to the Midwest, where she first found herself in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Through a series of events that culminated in March of 2020, Kiesha found herself battling health issues that would result in her becoming physically disabled, evicted from her apartment and homeless with her two young sons. Kiesha and her boys stayed in hotels, and at one point a friend’s RV with no electricity or running water, to get by. While this friend was at work during the day, Kiesha and her boys would use their home to shower and have access to a bathroom and electricity for a few hours.

In July of 2020, Kiesha’s sister passed away. Still grieving and living in a hotel at that time, she underwent an amputation surgery in August to remove her leg below the knee due to a severe ulcer. “Once my leg was removed, reality hit and I knew I was going to need help.”

Less than a month later, in early September, Kiesha’s mother also passed away. Her grief, financial hardship, and the challenges of adjusting to life in a wheelchair lead to mental health struggles. According to Kiesha, after her mom passed, she “emotionally checked-out”.

Kiesha knew that she needed help for herself and her two sons. She moved to Minnesota, where help is more accessible than in South Dakota. In October, she called the CADI hotline and was put in contact with her new case manager, Megan.

“The first time I spoke with Megan, I knew she was someone that had my best interest at heart,” Kiesha recalls. Megan was able to help Kiesha connect to supports, including a personal care assistant, medical equipment, physical therapy, household supplies and prepared meals. These supports enabled Kiesha to move into an apartment in Minnesota with her sons. Though she is grateful that she and her sons have a home and the necessities, Kiesha still faces some difficulties. She is unable to use the shower in her current apartment because it is not wheelchair accessible, and she sleeps in the living room so that her sons, now ages 11 and 16, can have their privacy in the bedrooms. She hopes to one day soon be able to move to a larger, more wheelchair accessible apartment.

Though 2020 was unspeakably difficult, Kiesha remains grateful for the help she has received and optimistic in 2021. She loves designing t-shirts and is looking forward to spending time with her fiance and sons this year.