Jody Foster fell on hard times when his health declined, and at one point he was homeless, surviving on the streets of Memphis.
His sister Raquel refused to give up on her brother – and she found a partner in Regional One Health’s ONE Health complex care initiative.
Now, support from Raquel and his ONE Health team, Jody is getting back on his feet, improving his health and living in his own apartment.
Raquel Foster does not believe on turning her back on family – her heart won’t let her. Thinking of her brother Jody living on the streets of Memphis still brings tears to her eyes.
Growing up in a noisy, busy household of 12 siblings, Raquel and Jody were close in age and in spirit. “There’s just a two-year age difference, so we were in school together. Jody is a twin, and they always kind of protected me at school,” Raquel remembers.
But after their parents passed away, Jody fell on hard times. He suffers from seizures, high blood pressure and other health issues that make it hard to work, and he became homeless.
“He was out in the world, sleeping on the street, and I’d ride through the neighborhoods and go to these empty houses and try to see him,” Raquel said. “I couldn’t watch him live like that. My heart wouldn’t allow it – it’s love, pure and simple.”
Raquel knew it was time for her to take on the role of protector. “Since my parents passed away, I’ve tried to help my brothers and sisters when they needed it,” she said. “Someone told me I needed to focus on the members of my family who were the most in need, so I focused on Jody.”
Raquel never gave up on her brother Jody. “He was out in the world, sleeping on the street, and I’d ride through the neighborhoods and go to these empty houses and try to see him,” Raquel said. “I couldn’t watch him live like that. My heart wouldn’t allow it – it’s love, pure and simple.”
But even a heart full of love doesn’t pay for medicine, food, housing – especially when Raquel lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She and Jody needed help, and they found it in Regional One Health’s ONE Health complex care initiative.
ONE Health, in collaboration with community partners, supports vulnerable patients with complex needs by connecting them to health care and services to address challenges like food and housing assistance, mental health care, transportation, etc. Jody was connected to Antoinette Flowers, RN, who could see right away that she had a unique opportunity to make a lasting positive impact.
“Jody genuinely wants to receive the care he needs to be healthy, and what makes this story so special is he has a sister who is supportive and very engaged in helping him,” Antionette said.
Antoinette and social worker Porshure Richardson stay in close touch with Raquel to make sure Jody is getting to his doctor’s appointments and taking his medicine. They also make sure both Jody and Raquel have the emotional support they need.
Raquel acknowledges being a caregiver is stressful. For a time, Jody was staying with her as he healed from a fractured arm, and she found herself turning to Porshure as a crucial source of support. “I can call her when I feel like giving up. I can cry and vent and tell her, ‘I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore,’ and she’ll reassure me,” Raquel said. “She’ll go into sister mode or mother mode and just calm me down and remind me that’s just how I feel in the moment, not forever.”
Today, life is steadily improving.
Raquel’s daughters, who were initially skeptical about having their uncle come live with them, have bonded with Jody. “I’m proud of my nieces,” he said. “They keep me in high spirits. We talk, and they listen to music with me.”
Jody even gives Raquel a hard time if she has to discipline her girls. “I’ll be bawling them out and he’d sit there with his head down…then we won’t talk to me for a day!” Raquel laughs.
Social Worker Porshure Richardson and Case Worker Antoinette Flowers support both Raquel and Jody as they navigate a better future. “Jody genuinely wants to receive the care he needs to be healthy, and what makes this story so special is he has a sister who is supportive and very engaged in helping him,” Antionette said.
Now, Raquel is back to work and excited about her oldest daughter’s recent admission to nursing school. Jody’s health has improved, and he recently moved into his own apartment thanks to a partnership between ONE Health and the Community Alliance for the Homeless.
He’s enjoying having his own four walls where he can relax and enjoy the company of his new gray-and-white kitty, Tasha. Jody jokes that having his own place to sleep feels so good that sometimes he wants to defy his 50-plus years of age and jump on the bed like a little kid.
But even if he doesn’t give in to that youthful impulse, he knows life these days feels a lot like a second chance. “Without Antoinette, Porshure and my sister, I’d be out on the street. Now, I’m living life. I have my own apartment. I go to church every Sunday,” he said.
“They brought me back to life.”
He continues to put in the work to make sure that continues. Raquel helps him take care of his new home, and he and Antoinette are starting the process of applying for his disability benefits.
“When you talk about a success story, this is definitely one of them,” Antoinette said. “It wasn’t always easy, but he always had hope. Now, he’s genuinely changed. He wants to do better.”
Raquel couldn’t agree more. “He’s a walking miracle,” she says. “I’m so proud of him – I’m glad to see my brother changing his life, because if he hadn’t changed, he was going to die out there on those streets. Once he got his mind right, he’s a good man. And he’s a great brother.”
To help create miracles for more patients like Jody, visit regionalonehealthfoundation.org and choose “One Health” in the designation drop-down menu.