A Love Worth the Phone Bill

Ms. Prendergast now lives in Shelton, Conn., and is the chief executive of White Rose Home Care Agency in Bridgeport. She founded the company, which provides care for the elderly and disabled throughout Connecticut, in 2014, after working as a financial administrator in the oncology department at Norwalk Hospital. She started with a handful of employees. Her staff has since swelled to 300. “Now that I see my path, I’m proud of myself,” she said. Her success is a badge of honor for her family, who migrated to the United States for better economic opportunities.

Ms. Prendergast’s maternal grandfather, Enos Lee Gordon, came to New York from St. Mary Parish in the 1980s to be a farmworker in the state. He was naturalized in 1996 through his marriage to Ms. Prendergast’s grandmother, Louise Gordon. Soon after, he started applying for his eight children, and their children, to become citizens. When those clearances came through in 2005, Ms. Prendergast was loaded onto a plane bound for Kennedy Airport with 15 relatives. She had never left Jamaica.

Her early years in New York were difficult. In addition to missing phone calls with Mr. Ferguson and Tara Jo, she felt lost at public school. “I didn’t assimilate well,” she said. “Believe it or not, the schools I was going to in Jamaica were harder, and I was really good at school.” Ms. Prendergast was bumped up a grade, where making friends wasn’t easy. She graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in 2008, when she was 17, and started college at the University of Bridgeport the same year, on a full scholarship.

Two years later, her father suffered a heart attack and died. But her family life had started unraveling before then. “I have to get into a little bit of chaos to explain it,” she said. Her mother left the house in Rosedale soon after the family arrived for a new home in the Bronx, she said. “The part that hurt is that she didn’t think to take me with her, but she took my other siblings.” Ms. Prendergast has an older brother, Romone Prendergast, and a younger sister, Janeil Lyons, and younger brother, Jevannie Cousins. Her grandparents became her primary caregivers when the family split. In 2019, Ms. Prendergast wrote a book, “Boss Enough to Start,” about her motivation for becoming an entrepreneur. “It’s a journey that started with not having my mom there.”