One student has not only overcome her own struggles but is now helping pave the way for others to as well.
When it comes to helping people, Ketney Jean, a social worker and junior at the University of Central Florida, has no limits.
“The thing is that I always knew what I liked,” Jean said. “I love helping people that are going through tough times and struggling. Helping them at their very low point is what I find most fulfilling.” Jean said, adding that she finds happiness every time she helps someone.
Jean started helping out at the Covenant House in January. The company is a privately funded agency that provides immediate help the homeless. Since she started volunteering there, Jean said she has gotten a clearer vision of where she wants her life directed.
Jean had a rough start in life. She didn’t get much attention from her mother and didn’t feel much of her support growing up.
“It was more like tough love,” Jean said. That led to different personal situations that she said sank her into constant depressions and auto-destructive situations to the point of having suicidal thoughts.
She said this is one of the reasons why she finds helping homeless people so fulfilling and also why she takes so much interest in helping them.
“In my opinion, they’re at the lowest, lowest point in their lives. That is the best time to look up at where you can go,” Jean said.
Recently, as Jean was driving to work she saw a homeless family walking down the street and decided to stop to see if she could help them in any way. After learning that they had been homeless for a while, she offered them a ride to a hotel on Lee Road and ended up spending half of the day with this family.
Kaylum Manuel, Tabatha Malley and their three kids have been homeless for seven years. They have tried different ways of finding a way out, but after losing everything they had and being stuck with no money, Manuel said it becomes very hard.
“The system doesn’t make it easy,” Manuel said with watery eyes.
Manuel and Malley said Jean not only gave them a ride to a hotel, but also paid out of her own pocket for them to stay three nights. They said she talked to them about the available options they have to get back in their feet. They described Jean as a great human being and said the world needs more people like her, willing to help.
Jean wants to start a company in the near future to financially be able to sustain the vision she has to help out her community and give to the people that are most in need, such as the homeless. She said she hopes to provide a place to stay as well as counseling to help them get out of the financial and mental situations they are unable to brake by themselves.
Jean is thankful for her past, because it has made her into the woman she is now.
“If I didn’t go through half the stuff that I’ve done, I wouldn’t be the person I am now,” Jean said.
Jean said is not about how you act is when everything is good, but how you are when everything is chaotic.
“Regardless of what happened to me, today I still remain grateful because there’s always something that I can learn from,” Jean said.