Why This Woman Wants to Rent a Family on Craigslist for the Holidays

Jackie Turner turned to Craigslist for a family. (Photo provided by Jackie Turner)Craigslist can be a great place to find a new apartment or a secondhand bike, but a family for Christmas? That’s exactly what 26-year-old Jackie Turner hoped for when she posted an ad with the title “I want to rent a mom and dad.” What she found instead was an opportunity to help others who are wishing for the same thing.

Turner has a full scholarship at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California, and a 4.0 grade point average, but things haven’t always been so rosy. As reported by News 10 in Sacramento, California, Turner has dealt with physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; spent years living on the streets; and at one point served nearly a year in jail for grand theft. After being released and attending a camp for troubled youth, she turned her life around. Today, when she’s not attending class or studying, Turner can be found volunteering at a local martial arts studio.

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Good things aside, Turner wished for more this holiday season. "In most aspects I'm doing great, she tells Yahoo Shine, "but what about the void inside that goes unspoken about?" Turner's Craigslist ad, posted to the Sacramento site, expressed the same sentiments, saying, “Hello, I am looking to rent a mom and dad for a couple of days during this holiday season. Every season around the holidays I am overcome with sadness.” The post went on to say that the family would, of course, be compensated for their time at a rate of $8 an hour. "I was looking for two people who would sit and listen to me for a couple of hours, so that I could cry," says Turner, who notes that she's played the listener role herself in her work as a camp counselor for at-risk youth.

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The ad brought in more than a dozen responses from families willing to take Turner in for free for the holidays, but it also brought her a bigger surprise: Others reached out to her to share similar life experiences. In all, more than a thousand people responded to her ad. "I actually thought that people would be afraid to reach out," she says.

As a result of the outpouring of responses, Turner has turned her attention from renting a family at the holidays to helping others speak out and find support. She has partnered with William Jessup University to create Unzipped, an event that will take place on campus on Saturday, featuring speakers who will talk publicly about their pain and personal growth. Says Turner, "It's designed to help people not be silent about the pain that is going on inside of them."

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