Rising Stars: Desiree Jefferson - Helping Others Rise to Independence
By Tracey F. John
Desiree Jefferson of Ridgley helps unaccompanied youth transition from foster care and homelessness towards independence through her work as an AmeriCorps Case Manager with His Hope Ministries in Denton.
Jefferson also brings a unique perspective to the position. She was an 18-year-old living in foster care, pregnant with her third child, and homeless. Now Jefferson is a rising star to other 18 to 24-year-olds growing up as she did, helping them to weave their way to independence and adulthood.
Jefferson received help from His Hope Ministries during her rise to independence, which makes the work especially meaningful to her. Now she is completing AmeriCorps nonprofit leadership training before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work from Salisbury University this spring, all while working her full-time job and being a single mother to three young children.
Jefferson grew up in Lusby, Maryland, and attended public schools before moving to promised reduced living expenses in Cambridge as she transitioned out of foster care. She was working a low-wage job when she fell behind on car payments. After having her car repossessed and losing her housing, she sought shelter through His Hope Ministries.
His Hope Ministries Program Director Loge Knight introduced her to the program and helped Jefferson and her children move to Greensboro with rent and other assistance. At the end of 2019, Jefferson’s drive and determination paid off and His Hope Ministries Executive Director Lynn Keckler offered her a job. Her work taking care of other people, however, began at an early age.
She was watching her newborn sister at the age of 10 and largely in charge of a house full of other siblings before entering foster care at the age of 13. Jefferson says she was excited about the experience of foster care because she thought things would be better, which was true — a relative took foster care classes and took Jefferson in, where she experienced a family bond.
“I want others to learn from my spirit and strength to not be scared and to never think your background is who you are,” says Jefferson. “You can come from something horrible and turn it into something great.
“People need to know you can be homeless and start as nothing,” she says, “and become something very special in the community.”
Jefferson says the most rewarding part of her job is helping herself be a better person, as well as helping others.
“I can never fix the childhood trauma I went through, but I can help it matter in a positive way through my work with people going through what I did.”
His Hope Ministries 409 Aldersgate Drive,
Denton, Maryland 21629 443-448-7297 hishopeministries.org