Originally posted on:
July 10, 2018
Carol Comegno, Cherry Hill Courier-Post
MOORESTOWN — As head of her own nonprofit, Kristen Babcock typically helps the homeless during the cold months, but tragedy doesn't wait for the weather.
Babcock has opened up her own home to a suddenly homeless family who has suffered several life-altering tragedies since June.
The family of five became homeless and was living in their car after losing everything in a fire at their Philadelphia home. The car was then totaled in a crash that left father Timothy Jones in the hospital with injuries.
Nakesha McKethan and the couple's three children had started living in a Philadelphia park.
“I could not find a shelter for them, so I drove to Broad Street and Girard (Avenue) on Friday afternoon while Mr. Jones was still in the hospital and brought them back to my house until we could get them back on their feet again,” said Babcock, who founded the nonprofit Code Blue Collaborative that works with area shelters to feed and clothe the homeless.
But on Sunday, more tragedy struck.
Jones, who also had been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, died from accident-related injuries in a Philadelphia hospital.
“I had planned to then take the family to a local motel for a few days, then get vouchers from the Salvation Army to stay somewhere else for a few more days and hopefully get them in with Interfaith Hospitality Network, but since the news Sunday night about the father I was not comfortable taking them to a motel,” Babcock said.
“The mother is in a state of shock and I'm concerned about the children being in a healthy environment.”
So for now, McKethan, 9-year-old daughter Brianna and 6-year-old twin boys Quarim and Quazim are staying with Babcock, her husband Michael Babcock and their three children.
“They are so wonderful. I would not know what to do or where to go without them,” the 36-year-old McKethan said Monday night, sobbing and then holding back tears over their plight and Jones’ unexpected death the night before.
“Me and my family, we thank them so much and everyone else who has done everything they can for me. I totally appreciate it so much.”
The South Jersey community has stepped up to help too.
Jennifer Lopez, another Moorestown woman, has started a Facebook donation page for the family while others have responded with contributions or other offers of help.
McKethan said she is still trying to deal with the death of 52-year-old Jones, adding she is “in shock” that she will never see him again and that in three weeks' time, her entire world has been altered.
“I don’t have the heart to tell my daughter her daddy is gone — and I don't even have the money for a funeral.”
At the time of the June 9 fire, Jones was working at his job as a pizza deliveryman. McKethan and the children were sleeping but escaped the two-story rental home in Port Richmond.