Originally published in December 2018:
Last Christmas, Anthony Battiste and his four sons — Chris 9, Anthony, 5, Abraham, 4, and Alvin, 2 — spent the holiday in a homeless shelter. After he and his wife separated and she moved to California, Battiste was left with one income and too many expenses. Though he tried to make ends meet with his earnings as a roofer, after a couple of months the family was evicted from their rental in Tacoma.
There were many times when Battiste had to choose between providing food for the children and paying for a hotel room. Despite his best efforts, the family sometimes had no choice but to sleep in their vehicle.
“It was trying, but at the same time it was binding,” says Battiste. “It presented an opportunity for me and the boys to become a strong cadre, leaning and depending on each other to get through the hard times.”
Thanks to Mary’s Place, a local nonprofit serving homeless families, the Battistes were able to regain some stability. The family accessed services through Popsicle Place, a Mary’s Place program designed for families with chronically ill children.
Battiste’s son Abraham struggles with developmental delays and alternating hemiplegia of childhood, a rare neurological condition characterized by recurrent episodes of temporary paralysis. These episodes usually begin before 18 months of age and the paralysis lasts from minutes to days.
“He’s my very special baby,” says Battiste. “I love him so, so much, I give him lots of love.”
Mary’s Place eventually helped the family transition into a townhome in Redmond with a park across the street. This year, Battiste is looking forward to spending Christmas at home; cooking his grandmother’s jambalaya and peach cobbler, stringing up lights, and putting presents under the tree.
He also hopes to one day be in a position to give back to other families who are experiencing homelessness. “I want people to know that homelessness is not the end. I never experienced it before and I never want to experience it again, but I did experience it and I came through,” says Battiste. “It wasn’t easy, but it’s something that you can do.”
Related: Spreading holiday cheer: Simple ways your family can help people experiencing homelessness | 15 great ways your family can help others this holiday season | How to adopt a family for the holidays