At five months old, tiny, bubbly little Jayla Harris hasn’t known any other home than the safe haven of Restoration Urban Ministries. She’s too young to know it yet, but she’s the star at Restoration – bringing a smile to every resident’s face whenever she’s around.
Her parents, Javon and Destiny Harris, moved to Restoration Urban Ministries in 2010. They had been living at her mother’s place, packed with people, trying to raise their son, Jayshawn, a smart, active three-year-old.
With cramped quarters and a tough go of getting ahead in life, Javon and Destiny decided to try the programs and shelter of Restoration Urban Ministries.
“At Restoration, you get to focus on your plan – you don’t need to worry about the other stuff, the world,” says Javon while bouncing his baby daughter on his lap. “Clothing, school supplies, diapers – it’s all taken care of here so that Destiny and I can focus on what we need to focus on.”
The two met in Champaign through friends and got married in 2011. Living at Destiny’s mother’s, they say they weren’t getting the experience they needed to be parents and adults. Restoration’s programs, classes, and ministry have taught them how to grow and find themselves, how to manage money and create savings, and how to put God first.
“If you need help, Restoration is the place to come,” says Javon. “They give you everything you need so you don’t need to worry – food, shelter, the Word. That helps us focus and get our lives together.”
Destiny chimes in, “Everyone looks out for everyone at Restoration. It’s like a family here — it feels like home.”
Corralling her feisty three-year-old, Destiny turns to the future. “Eventually we want to move to something stable. I want to finish my GED and open a beauty and barber shop. Javon wants to work. I want to create a life where Jayshawn can grow up to be an all-star – on the basketball court and at school.”
Javon speaks with passion about his next step: he wants to follow in the steps of a man that helped make his transformation possible: Pastor Ervin Williams at Restoration Urban Ministries.
“Restoration needs me as much as I need them,” he says. “I want to do this – I want to do what Pastor Ervin does. In a sense, I don’t ever want to leave this place, because it doesn’t get any better than this.”