When Krystal Smith sneaks into her children’s room to wake them for school, she doesn’t enter on her tip toes – she dances.
“We have a lot of dance parties,” Smith said. “We start pretty much every day with music that gets the blood flowing and we dance.”
With the music on, her children jump out of bed, and they start their day – together, happy, dancing.
Coming to Buckner Family Pathways was an answer to prayer, “a prayer I didn’t even know I needed to pray,” Smith said. Smith is no stranger to difficult times. When she first came to Family Pathways in Dallas two years ago, she was desperate. Her children were 2 and 3 years old when her husband just left them with nothing.
Though her mother lived in Dallas, she was not in a position to help Smith.
“I was desperate,” Smith said. “I did get a job, but I just wasn’t making enough, and their father wasn’t contributing at all. My son struggled. He cried every night. We were living with friends, and it started to disrupt their lives.”
Smith evaluated her budget and realized she had enough money to rent a home or eat meals. There wasn’t enough to do both.
“I remember crying out to God, ‘I just need you to provide because I don’t know how this is going to work.’ Family Pathways was it. This was an answer to prayer.”
Smith had driven by the Family Pathways campus many times. She never knew what it was. When she called another agency asking for help, they referred her to Family Pathways.
“I was just so astonished that I had lived here so long and never heard about this,” Smith said. “When I came in for the first time, just the spirit of the place and the staff assured me that I was safe. For the first time since my ex-husband just up and left, I knew we were going to be OK.”
And when she was handed the keys to her new apartment, Smith cried.
“I’m not even a crier, but I got my keys and I just melted,” she said. “It just felt like a new beginning. It was a blessing from the first day.”
The stability and safety of a home changed her children as well.
“They love it here,” Smith said. “For them, the tearful days and we don’t have enough space have turned into having their own room with a sense of pride. At the same time, they are learning responsibility at an early age to take care of their things and their blessings. My babies don’t know that this is a transitional home. They don’t know it as anything but home. They are home. For me to provide that for them and they get a safe childhood experience, I don’t have any reason to complain.”
The support Smith receives through the child care assistance, resources and counseling at Family Pathways has helped her pursue a degree in applied behavioral science. She is graduating later this year and then she is planning to pursue a master’s degree.
The counselor at Family Pathways also helped diagnose her son, Jaxon, with autism. Smith noticed Jaxon was always snapping his fingers, but she, like his teachers at school, thought it was just something he did, nothing to worry about.
The counselor at Family Pathways suggested he see a psychologist. Family Pathways made all the arrangements – from the referral to the payment. Now that he has resources and aid, he is improving at school and at home.
There have been storms in Smith’s life – she is also a thyroid cancer survivor and a domestic violence survivor – but she only sees the blessings.
“It was the compilation of the worst period of time in my life which has brought me to the best time of my life,” Smith said. “I was raised in the church. It’s one thing to know the Lord from other people’s testimony. But to know him intimately and to see how he really fulfills his promises, it adds a new layer of appreciation for who God is and what Jesus did.
“I have no reason to complain,” she continued. “Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is promised, but you can’t help but think every day is a blessing. You can cry or you can dance. So we just dance instead of cry.”
This summer, you can shine by participating in the Buckner Shine This Summer campaign along with a special $100,000 Matching Grant that doubles the value of each gift Buckner receives by Aug. 31. Every gift will be put to work to help single-parent families across Texas who are living in extreme poverty, fear and vulnerability — like Krystal was.
Should you feel led to make a special investment to be doubled by the Matching Grant, we’d be truly grateful. Any portion of the grant not matched will be lost, so we’re hoping for a strong outpouring of support to help mend more broken lives.