Asheena’s Story

During State of the City, Mayor Walsh share’s many stories of our city residents as heroes. This is Asheena’s story.

Speech Excerpt from State of the City 2019

These steps forward in fiscal sustainability, city services and in our economy and neighborhoods show how combining engagement, data, and the resources of the community have already started to improve lives in Syracuse in meaningful ways over the past year.

When I took office, there were those who thought our city was on its knees. I didn’t believe that narrative. And neither did most of you. Syracuse has struggled, and we are not out of the woods yet. But we are standing tall.  Syracuse, after decades of setbacks, is on the cusp of a renaissance.

It’s a renaissance not unlike what has taken place in city-resident Asheena Jennings life in recent years.

A 29 year old mother of three, Asheena hit rock bottom this past summer. Suffering from the effects of anxiety and depression, Asheena and her kids lived in a rundown apartment on the city’s Northside. She would have moved, but didn’t earn enough money from her job in retail to afford a new place. And the landlord always said he would make the repairs. From time to time she’d call the City’s Code Enforcement Office. Codes would respond, but she couldn’t keep up with reporting all the issues.

In July, feeling pressure mounting, Asheena’s health suffered, and she ended up hospitalized. Stabilized after an overnight stay, she returned home and found new support from a social worker.

Soon after that episode, Asheena called the city for help again. A caring employee, Patty Lynch, talked with her about the future. Patty shared resources and information about housing options, and connected her to our partner, Catholic Charities.

Recently, Asheena completed employment training through the Work Train program and SUNY EOC. She became a certified nurse aide and she now has a full time job at Loretto, and last October, Asheena and her children got out of that substandard apartment and into a four bedroom house better suited to a family. Asheena Jennings can teach us all a lesson. She faced circumstances that seemed insurmountable. She took small steps to change course. They led to big shifts that even she couldn’t have imagined. And today, she and her children are headed in a better, more positive direction. Asheena, thank you for giving us all hope for a better future