Opening Up a Crowded Home After a Sister’s Death

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has recently featured this Children’s Aid story about a family opening up their crowded home after a sister’s death.  Below is an excerpt from the original article.

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Felicia Fields, center, and her family. Clockwise from top left, Johnathon, Jasmyn, Barron Smith, Tichina, Christopher and Justin.

The Fields household is jam-packed.

Pots and pans are stacked atop the kitchen table. The refrigerator is close to overflowing. Crates of clothes cram the living room, and there are not enough beds for the family of seven living in the tiny two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in a housing project in gritty Morrisania in the Bronx.

“It’s overcrowded,” admitted Felicia Fields, 38, the head of the family. “But we don’t stress on it as long as we have love.”

The sudden death of Ms. Fields’s sister, Carol, from septicemia in June 2008 brought two more children into a space that already included Ms. Fields’s children — Justin, 10; Jasmyn, 14; and Johnathon, 19 — and her fiancé, Barron Smith. The fathers of Tichina Fields, 17, and Christopher Fields, 8, declined to take an active parenting role after Carol Fields’s death, so Felicia Fields moved them from their apartment in Riverdale, and was eventually granted full guardianship.

“I’m just grateful to keep them together, because I couldn’t imagine a world without them,” Ms. Fields said. “I couldn’t let them go to foster care.”

Tichina, a straight-A student and a fledgling writer who became afflicted with cerebral palsy after suffering from bleeding in her brain after her premature birth, and Christopher, a train and bridge buff who has autism and attention deficit disorder, refused to eat for a while after the move. Christopher told a school counselor he wanted to go to heaven with his mother. But eventually they became enmeshed in the family fabric, wordlessly tapping away on their Game Boys alongside their cousins and swapping computer time for the completion of their chores.

Read more…

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times