“Getting beat, shuffled around, and becoming homeless with my dad” was how Julie* described her young life. Her mom was on drugs and reportedly mentally unstable, behaving in ways which were incredibly confusing for Julie as a child.
Her mom left the family when Julie was about 11 and her father was “constantly” at the local bar, drinking all of their money away. There was never food or decent clothes and he brought home strange women who were in and out of the house.
When they ended up homeless and her father could no longer take care of her, one of his old girlfriends took Julie in. She says it was an “awful place”, where she was continually treated unfairly as compared to this woman’s own children. Julie says she was noticeably given less food and hand-me-downs while they would be given new clothes. Julie regularly felt deprived and unwanted.
The girlfriend regularly used Julie to go out and buy the street pills she needed to feed her own addiction. She would then give pills to Julie to keep her quiet so that she would continue to retrieve her narcotics. This was the beginning of Julie’s pill addiction and experience running drugs. She was just 13 years old.
My heart just breaks for girls like Julie. With an upbringing like this, she didn’t have a chance for a normal life. But she found Vision House and now her story has a happy ending. Thanks to friends like you for being there for women like Julie! Before it gets better, however, her story takes another sad turn.
At age 14, Julie moved in with a boy she met, having no other real safe place to be. Her childhood left her with few healthy coping skills and only an eighth grade education. She eventually became involved in street crime to survive and ended up in several abusive relationships. Her addiction to pills and alcohol began to run her life and she was heavily involved with gangs, which led to several arrests and . . . a baby girl.
Julie and her daughter became homeless and were in and out of shelters for nearly five years before they were referred to Vision House in June of 2014.
THIS is when Julie’s life began to change. The love and support she and her daughter received at Vision House motivated her and helped her understand that there were good people who didn’t know her, but wanted the best for her and her teenager. These people were so different than what she had experienced growing up. They were fair, trustworthy, compassionate and showered Julie and her daughter with unconditional love – something she knew little about.
Julie completed an outpatient chemical dependency treatment program as one of her first goals after arriving. She had always struggled to finish what she started and completing her program was a big accomplishment. Julie participated in the Vision House recovery program and has remained sober throughout her 15-month stay.
Another huge accomplishment for Julie was to begin a GED program at the local Community College. She was very fearful about facing her academic barriers and it took a great amount of courage to do so. She has been meeting weekly with a volunteer tutor for ongoing support and has passed two of the four tests required to receive her GED. She has plans to continue at the Community College near her new home.
It’s because of generous donors like you that Vision House is able to help families like Julie’s. I hate to think where she would be today if she hadn’t found the love and support that Vision House has provided for her and her daughter. Your gifts DO matter, they DO redeem lives, they DO pull people out of the darkness and into the light.
When asked how Vision House has helped her, Julie replied “I finish things that I start now. I have learned to have higher standards for myself. I was lazy and I can do a lot more than I thought I could. I am less reactive and I think things through more. I am more open to suggestions rather than doing things my own way.”
Julie didn’t have any role models to rely on and acknowledges that “my parenting is still a work in progress. It is very difficult, but I am still trying”. But she sees a big change in her daughter who has been attending school regularly and has been enjoying her classes. She has also made some new friends. Julie says she is much more aware of her issues and how they may have contributed to her becoming homeless.
Will you provide a life transformed for another family at Vision House? For an average cost of just $60, you can care for one family in desperate need of safe housing and recovery services for one night, or $420 for one week. Or maybe you can even support a family for an entire month for $1,800. The average length of stay for a family is 18 months and we are serving the Julie’s of our city every day – every night. A gift of any amount is appreciated and needed.
We rejoice with Julie who has completed the program at Vision House and is waiting for permanent housing for herself and her daughter. They both long for a place to call home and the stability and security that it will provide; and to move forward with the new-found confidence and skills to make it on their own.