Hard To Breathe - Tay-Ama's Story

Ghosts of scars haunt Tay-Ama Bosquet’s forearms and wrists – faint reminders from her life working in the local packing plant.

"I was a packer. Packers pack crates. That’s 48 ears of corn,” she explained. “Field workers, they throw the corn at us and we pack it and push down the boxes. We make $0.15 per box, so to make a $100  a day, you need to pack 600-700 boxes in 12 hours. “

She rubs her wrists and holds them up to the light.  

“It’s hard work,” she said. “It’s like being stabbed and having rocks thrown at you at the same time.”

Hardship is something 24-year old Tay-Ama knows well.

Born in the Glades and growing up in the foster care system, she never really established a firm sense of stability in life between being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ricocheting between the homes of her extended family.

“My sister is here. My cousins are here,” she said. “I want to stay close to my family, so I don’t know if I can leave Belle Glade.”

Tay-Ama was living with her sister when she connected with Community Partners.

“The referral came through DCF,” explained Targeted Case Manager Jermaine Austin. “She was pregnant and she stopped taking her bipolar meds. Tay-Ama got into a domestic disturbance with her son’s father and we met because she was trying to reunite with her children.”

Living with her sister in South Bay, Tay-Ama knew she needed to find her own place if she wanted to be reunited with her children, so she started her search.

“She took her income tax money and paid for the place,” said Jermaine. “She was proactive in putting the place together so her children could come home.”

The Bosquet family’s home costs about $500 a month and is located is in the heart of Belle Glade, right off MLK Jr. Blvd.

My shoulders measure 18 inches across and when I first entered Tay-Ama’s house, I had to squeeze them in as tightly as I could. Contracting my body just so I could fit inside.

Calling the space a house almost feels like deceit. It can’t be more than 500 square feet in total and contains three rooms – a small bathroom, a living room and one cramped bedroom. Tay-Ama sleeps on a crowded couch and in lieu of a kitchen, she has a microwave, a toaster oven and a hot plate.

Tay-Ama and her three sons share the space with rats, cockroaches and termites.

“Look,” she said, holding out a packet of potato chips. “The rats eat my kids’ food. I love food. I did a culinary arts program in Lake Worth and I can make some good barbecue chicken and cornbread. Knowing these rats are eating our food? Oh, it makes me mad!”

“I need space,” she said with a sigh as she crouched on the floor, sorting through donated children’s clothes. “I’m tired of being crushed up.”

This is what poverty does to a person. It makes them smaller. It squeezes them, constricts them. Poverty makes it harder to breathe.

“I think overall, she wants to improve her status,” Jermaine said. “There are several factors at play and a lack of education is one of them. But that's what puts us in place. We’re trying to bridge that gap.”

Tay-Ama’s is just one of the numerous stories of your neighbors and fellow Palm Beach County residents who need help in Changing The Odds.

We believe in storytelling and the transformative power of words at Community Partners and we tell Tay-Ama’s story in the hopes of helping her transform her situation and change her odds.

We tell her story in the hopes of making it easier for Tay-Ama to breathe.

And we need your help.

Learn more.

Do more.

Join the movement.

And help make it a little easier for Tay-Ama Bosquet and her three children to breathe.