June has a friendly smile and the perky attitude of your favorite waitress. So it comes as no surprise when the Union City native tells you she's worked at many of the local landmarks, from the Coach House in North Bergen to the Plaza Diner in Fort Lee. Staying employed as a cook or a waitress was a challenge as she suffered from epilepsy, which was not under control at the time.
“I had no idea about my rights as a worker,” she said. “It was really depressing to keep losing jobs.” During an extended hospitalization for depression in 2008, she lost her apartment and became homeless.
“I was at the Hoboken Shelter first and then St. Lucy's Shelter in Jersey City. They placed me in the Belmont, where you have your own bedroom but share a kitchen and bathroom. I lived there for more than six months and I kept filling out forms anywhere and everywhere, trying to get housing.”
In 2010, June was able to find and apartment and receives financial assistance from the United Way of Hudson County's Collaborative Solutions Program. “It's a fresh start,” she said. “It's such a relief to be able to cook and clean, to have my own place.”
A certified home health aide, June, 61, has befriended many of the seniors in her apartment complex. “I guess I could qualify as a senior,” she laughs, “but my neighbors are a good 10 to 20 years older than me.” June runs errands and helps them with simple tasks.
“I have a whole new life,” she says, smiling. “I'm starting all over again.”