I Found Out My Autistic Student Was Homeless, So I Moved Mountains to Help Her

month ago

In the bustling halls of a Colorado pre-K classroom, Dana Cruse encountered a little girl who would leave a mark on her heart. Jenna Aubuchont, a then 4-year-old with a radiant spirit, entered Dana’s world, silently but profoundly. Little did Dana know, Jenna’s journey was marked by challenges beyond what most could imagine.

An instant admiration becomes a worry.

Jenna, nonverbal and on the autism spectrum, navigated her world with a unique perspective. Yet, it was her magnetic charm, cleverness, and joy that captivated Dana from the start. Dana recalls the day they first met with a warm smile. “She gives the best hugs, and it’s unexpected,” Cruse says. Despite Jenna’s communication barriers, Dana felt an unspoken connection with her, one that transcended words. “I think I’m teaching her something, but she’s teaching me way more.”

As Dana witnessed Jenna’s growth and progress in her classroom, she couldn’t help but be amazed. Dana’s admiration soon turned to concern when she learned of the family’s history.

A difficult life

Bethany, Jenna’s devoted mother, had made immense sacrifices for her daughters. Following Jenna’s autism diagnosis and the absence of her father, Bethany made the courageous decision to move her family to Colorado, seeking refuge and support from friends. However, their hopes were shattered when promised assistance was gone, leaving them homeless and vulnerable.

The stark reality of their situation was concerning. Each day, Bethany and her daughters lined up at a homeless shelter, uncertain of their fate. Nights spent in the car were not uncommon, with the added burden of recurring lice infestations plaguing the girls. Despite the adversity, Bethany’s love and resilience never wavered.

A much needed help

Dana, deeply moved by Bethany’s state, knew she had to do something. She witnessed firsthand the struggles Bethany faced in balancing her daughters’ needs with the relentless challenges of homelessness. Despite her own limitations, Bethany remained firm in her commitment to her daughters’ well-being, nurturing them with unwavering love.

In a world often marked by indifference, Dana’s compassion shone brightly. She reached out to Bethany, offering not just support in the classroom, but a genuine connection rooted in empathy and understanding. Together, they forged a partnership, seeking solutions to alleviate the family’s hardships and provide stability for Jenna and her sisters.

The family reaction

A GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to secure stable housing for the Aubuchont family was created. For Bethany, the flood of support from Dana and the community was overwhelming. She shared that she was blown away and confessed to crying a lot, deeply touched by the kindness and generosity extended to her family during their time of need.

The response to Dana’s efforts has been heartening, with donations pouring in to help alleviate the Aubuchont family’s housing insecurity. Dana’s goal is clear: to provide Jenna and her sisters with a stable home, laying the foundation for a brighter future filled with opportunities.

As Dana’s efforts continue to gain momentum, the Fort Collins community rallies behind Jenna and her family, exemplifying the spirit of compassion and solidarity. Together, they are rewriting the narrative for a family in crisis, offering hope, support, and a pathway to a brighter tomorrow.

Preview photo credit CBS Colorado / Youtube


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