Jazmyne Johnson drives a black Lexus.
Actually, that’s not really correct.
She’s owns a very used 1998 Lexus, but it doesn’t run and hasn’t started in eight months. It just sits forlornly in front of the Hutto home where Johnson’s maternal grandmother invited her and her three young children to live two years ago.
The overworked odometer stopped working after 288,735 miles. Its inspection sticker has expired. No title or tags. The back is smashed in. The sides are scraped. The gaskets are leaking. It’s a wreck.
Johnson, 24, has to rely on Uber or Lyft to run errands, and take her children to doctor visits and Head Start in Hutto where they attend preschool. A round trip will cost her up to $24 a ride. Johnson is a single mom to 3-year-old son Nehemiah and 4-year-old twin daughters Nyliah and Nakayla. Nakayla has developmental delays from microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes a baby’s head not to fully develop to its normal size and the brain to stop growing.
Recently, Johnson went to Dallas for Thanksgiving with a relative and then found out that she didn’t have a way to get back to Hutto for more than a week.
The Johnsons are part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which features the stories of 12 local families nominated by area nonprofit agencies like Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties, which is assisting Johnson.
On Johnson’s big list of needs are a reliable used car, car seats and car insurance. The care will help her not only get her children to school, but it will help her continue her education. Right now, that’s on hold, but her goal is to get a degree in biotechnology.
She’d love to be a medical laboratory technician and has always been interested in medicine.
“When I was 10, I said I was going to cure people with AIDS,” Johnson said, “and I didn’t even know what AIDS was. I just knew it was something that can’t be cured, and I don’t believe that.”
Her other big wish list items are to move into her own apartment and to have the furniture to fill it.
The Johnsons will be getting some items this Christmas. Grisham Middle School’s art and theater students have adopted them for the holidays. Almost every year since 2010, Grisham’s art and theater students have selected one Season for Caring family and collected gifts for the family and raised money for gift cards.
The tradition started “spur of the moment,” said art teacher Kristin Goodman, when in 2010 she asked kids to donate gifts for Season for Caring rather than giving her teacher gifts for Christmas. That first year, her students gathered more than a carload of presents.
Last year, students collected $4,000 worth of items and $1,950 in gift cards. It was the school’s biggest Season for Caring donation to date.
“Some kids (at Grisham) have, and some kids have very little,” theater teacher Susan Dickson said of the school of about 700 students. “Some of them can’t give gifts, but they’ll bring a roll of wrapping paper, or, if they can’t do that, then they’ll help wrap gifts. We’ve got a really diverse community, and we’re really big on community service.”
At Hutto High School, the choir has decided to make its Monday concert a benefit for the family as well as collect toys.
A car, an education, a place to raise her children — those are the big things on Johnson’s wish list that needs the help of the whole Central Texas community.
To find out more about the Johnson family or to give an item on its wish list, contact Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties, 512-763-1400, opportunitiesforwbc.org.