For 6-year-old Jazsmine, a window at Opportunity House looked out to a view far beyond her imagination. The window was located in a family room that housed Jazsmine’s family. She slept on the top bunk and her sister on the bottom bunk. Her mom and brother used the other set of bunk beds.
Jazsmine would look into the window and see her reflection. That’s how she styled her hair each morning before school. Her younger sister would climb up on the bunk, and Jazsmine would fix her hair for school. This is one of the fondest memories she has of living at Opportunity House.
Born to two Navy veterans, Jazsmine’s parent’s marriage fell apart after her father had an affair. Her mother coped by using drugs and then began a new relationship with a Vietnam Veteran. He paid all the bills and kept a roof over their heads. He died unexpectedly, and her mother was left with little resources to survive. With no place to go, they came to Opportunity House in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In the early 1990s, the rules were regimented at Opportunity House; clients had to be out of the dorms by 6 am. Jazsmine and her family would leave and head to a neighborhood bar, where she slept until it was time for school. Some days they would sit across the street from the school, waiting for the school to open. A Reading School District teacher realized what was happening and would arrive early to open the doors for Jazmine and her siblings.
Her experience at Opportunity House brings smiles to her face. Thanks to generous donors, she had memorable holidays and birthdays during her stay. Finally, after nearly two years at Opportunity House, her family moved to Oakbrook Homes.
After leaving Opportunity House, Jazsmine’s mother’s addiction went into full force, and this young girl assumed the role of parent for her younger sister. She would get her up for school. She and her sister would walk across town to local soup kitchens to get a hot meal. Jazsmine recalls a local charity bringing Christmas dinner, a Christmas tree, and gifts for the entire family a few days before the holiday. They woke up on Christmas morning to discover that their mother had sold everything.
The children entered the foster care system. At age 16, Jazsmine had her first birthday cake and her first birthday party thanks to her foster family. That left an indelible mark on Jazsmine, and to this day, she celebrates her birthday and those she loves in a very big and special way.
After leaving the foster care system, as a young adult, Jazsmine started her career as a bank teller and worked her way up to a home equity loan specialist. Although her career provided a stable income for this then-single mother, she felt destined for more. Her passion for cosmetology reignited when several of her coworkers were unsure how to braid and style their children’s hair. Jazsmine was happy to show them and enjoyed the hugs and smiles from these mothers and their daughters.
These years were also a time of self-reflection and discovery. Jazsmine soon realized she had been searching for love and acceptance with different men. She decided to focus on herself and learned to love and respect herself. This set a new tone in her life, and she met the man of her dreams.
She married a 25-year Veteran of the Air Force and together they are raising four boys. She enrolled in the Paul Mitchell Schools to become a licensed cosmetologist to fulfill her passion for styling hair. She put in long days and graduated in Spring 2022—just weeks before her husband was deployed overseas for six months.
She has her beauty salon in her home, which focuses on the two things she loves most—her family and styling hair.
Jazsmine has returned to Opportunity House to have her graduation picture taken at the window that inspired her throughout her life. She is living proof that your dreams and desires can be the most powerful tools for your success.
Your donation to Opportunity House make a difference to families with children. Your impact can change the future for a child.