A contentious relationship with her mother, which resulted in homelessness, led Timishia Ortiz to host a Mother/Daughter Gala to fund The Jasmine Center, a transitional home for families. Courtesy photo

By Wiley Henry

MEMPHIS, TN — The relationship between mothers and daughters can become quite contentious and fragile sometimes. In some cases, the relationship may languish beyond repair.

 “Today’s mother and daughter relationships are the most turbulent in existence,” said Timishia Ortiz, who is hosting a “Mother Daughter Gala: The Heart of the Matter” on Sept. 14, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Bartlett Banquet Hall, 2758 Bartlett Blvd.

There is a fee to attend the gala: $35 for adults and $15 for children. Proceeds benefit The Jasmine Center, Inc., a non-profit transitional home for families that Ortiz is planning to open in the Binghampton community. 

“The property that I’m looking at…they want $350,000,” said Ortiz, 36, the Center’s founder, president and CEO. A temporary office is located at 3592 Knight Arnold Rd., Suite 320. 

“Right now we still do help families in need. We will open up the facility as soon as we get the money,” said Ortiz, adding that once the doors are open, six families at a time will be able to stay up to 12 months. 

The gala is the first step in bringing The Jasmine Center to fruition. Attendees can expect light refreshments, in addition to a performance by former recording artist Temmora Levy, who manages the wildly popular girl group, KARMA. Elder Yvonne R. James, a poet and novelist, will deliver the message. 

While raising needed funds is paramount, Ortiz is hoping the message and camaraderie will help repair relationships and eventually mend hearts – thus the impetus that led to the founding of The Jasmine Center. 

In fact, Ortiz’s relationship with her own mother was fraught with problems that waned over time. She was incensed that her mother had defaulted on a lease agreement that was forged with her name.

She discovered what her mother had done after leaving an abusive husband in Nashville and returning home to Memphis for family support. An eviction notice had already been issued, which meant the person whose name was on the lease (Timishia Ortiz) had to vacate the property.

Ortiz was pregnant at the time with her son and a two-year-old daughter in tow when her world was suddenly upended. Because of her mother’s misdeed, “I couldn’t get a place because of the eviction on my credit.”

In retrospect, Ortiz had no money because her husband, whom she’d married in 2013, had convinced her to stay home. The arrangement turned out to be an unwise decision on her part. 

When she’d search for a place to live, she was told she needed a physical address. The eviction also complicated matters.

Ortiz was now homeless and had nowhere to turn for help. Then, too, having to navigate the court system leading up to a rocky divorce only exacerbated her problem. 

“We were on the streets. Sometimes we slept in my car,” she said.

Ortiz had come from a steady family. Her father was a radiologist and a preacher. He died the day before her seventh birthday. Her mother, who’d stayed home at the behest of her husband, raised five children. 

After finishing high school, Ortiz earned a degree at the University of Memphis, worked a good paying job, volunteered in the community, and attended church. Homelessness was now a factor that she had to contend with. 

Options were nil for the homeless population in Memphis in 2016, said Ortiz, who’d searched for a shelter to no avail. So she opted to return to Nashville where she’d fled domestic violence. She found a shelter and employment there. 

After returning to Memphis, “My dad’s sister relocated from Atlanta to Memphis to help me and my children get a place to stay after she found out what had happened.” 

Ortiz had struggled for six months before she started seeing a glimmer of hope. Now she’s trying to help others who are homeless with limited resources or none at all. That’s why The Jasmine Center is so important, she said.

Her mother died this year in March. The eviction snafu, however, is still unresolved. “I’m still trying to fix that error,” said Ortiz, who had already forgiven her mother before she died.

For more information about The Jasmine Center, call (901) 921-9455.