Before the ceremony, Jackson paces the entrance hall of Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. Young sits in a pew near the front, looking nervously at her friends and mentors from CARITAS. "Yeah, I'm shaking," she confesses.
"This is my first wedding too," Young says. "It wasn't the way I planned it, but that's OK." She has three children and Jackson has four. "He's a real gentleman," she says. "He treats me real good."
The average wedding these days costs around $19,000. But Young has everything she needs. She wears a black lace dress and a pearl-and-black-bead necklace, bracelet and earrings set she designed in a jewelry-making class. A woman she knew from church gave her a French manicure; a salon across from homeless-services provider The Daily Planet crimped and curled her hair in a '20's-style.
"We have come out the storm and have risen from homeless to riches," Young says. When presented with a bouquet of pink roses, she wipes away a tear. "Thanks, CARITAS," she says. "Y'all have been really good and special."
Minutes before the ceremony is to begin, she begins furiously fumbling in her brassiere. "Oh, the ring," she says breathlessly. "The ring!"
It's not there but then she reaches into her coat pocket, and there it is, the elegant circle that had been Jackson's father's.
"I don't know who's going to play the music," Young says. There is no organist. So the dozen or so people present sing a wordless version, in dums and dahs, of "Here Comes the Bride."
Edward Judkins, single adult program manager at CARITAS, escorts the bride down the aisle. The pastor, Evangelist Valencia Malone, says a few prayers and marries Jackson and Young. Afterward there is red velvet cake in the church basement and a handful of gifts: cologne and bath products, a set of Christmas bowls and a mirror.
The couple plans to live in New York City, where Jackson has family. "Hopefully they'll keep in touch," CARITAS Executive Director Karen Stanley says wistfully. "That's what we depend
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