I've never had an easy life. From my parents divorcing when I was 4, experiencing a lot of trauma within the four walls of my home as a kid, and again as an adult with every one of my relationships failing, I'd experienced it all. Or, so I thought. Until 5 years ago when I experienced having my children taken away from a hoarding disorder that I wasn't aware I had. I hired a lawyer to get them back and then lost them again shortly after from becoming homeless in 2020. For the next two years, I lived with people I knew, at the Salvation Army, in motels, and in my car. On the nights it would rain or even snow, I would stay in my car covered up while shivering and thinking, "How do people live like this? How many people have to do this day in and day out?"
I was an impoverished, homeless single mother with two small children and had absolutely nothing to give them. I had no idea when or where we'd get our next meal or if I would even get one at all. All I knew was that I had to find a way to make sure my children's needs were met regardless. With no job, no vehicle because mine flooded, no checking/savings account, I was scared, lost, mad, and furious with God and the world. I had no clue who I was and felt unworthy. I felt so many different emotions having to ask for help because I should have been able to provide.
Fast forward to today, I am 100% out of debt. I have a checking and savings account, I have plenty of money in both and a beautiful 2007 Ford Edge gifted to me by Grace Place. Far more than monetary value, I've learned accountability and been empowered on a daily basis. I've learned to seek effort, growth, and improvement not so I can be perfect but so I can strive to do and be my best, not only for myself but for my children. I've learned the art of forgiveness, as well as integrity and restoration by getting up, dressed up and showing up even when I didn't want to or think I could. I have achieved all of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health needs, something that was not in the foreseeable future prior to Grace Place. In the 9 months I was at Grace Place, I developed a relationship with Jesus and was baptized on 8/14/22.
The staff here have stood by me when no one else would. I was midway through my pregnancy and when I arrived at Grace Place, I came with what was on my back. They provided Christmas and threw me a baby shower. My mother had custody of my two other children at the time and I had a rage and hatred inside of me that is impossible to put into words. But, throughout my time at Grace Place, I also was able to learn why I've never had a lasting relationship, why I have anger problems, and why I lost my own two children because I was hoarding trash in my apartment because I couldn't handle the sound the trash dumpster made when I tried to lift the lid. I've never fit in anywhere my entire life and I've never been able to reach any goals that I had, ever, and I struggled in school and socially my whole life.. Because the relationships at Grace Place are so strong and they pay so much attention to us from the get go. It was during this time that I was able to learn something about myself that no one has ever known but it has led to a lot of understanding, coping, and healing.
I am a 37 year old woman and I am autistic. I've learned that autism often goes undiagnosed in women because it presents itself differently in females than males. When Ms. Dee sat me down and explained my diagnostic results, she explained that I have super powers that make me very special. She also explained why I've struggled in so many different ways that I never had any answers to before.
I lost my children to my own mother because I couldn't handle the sound of a dumpster, so I kept all trash in my apartment, because I'm autistic and my sensory perception is different. Feel the weight of that. Not long after being at Grace Place, my mother had seen such a change in me that she testified on my behalf in court and dropped child support. She told the Judge she didn't know what program I was in, but that I was a completely different person and she didn't want me to have to pay child support as I was putting my life back together. After 9 months of being at Grace Place, my mother has willingly given my children back to me and she brought them to my new home the first night I was able to move into my townhouse. That relationship has a long way to go, but when I came to Grace Place I wouldn't have a single conversation with my mother. And, she raised me my whole life not knowing I was autistic. I am learning more and more everyday about how to cope and thrive with what I now understand about myself.
I recently graduated from Grace Place on 8/24/2022 and was moved into a beautiful townhouse with everything provided for me to get back on my feet. And like I said, I have the baby I was carrying when I arrived at Grace Place plus my other two children, and we have a home.
I didn't just learn about homelessness and trauma and the ways our lives are shaped by what we've been through and how to overcome, I experienced it.
Now, I have a dream of going to college and majoring in sign language as that is a great passion of mine.
And thanks to Grace Place, I have another chance at life and this dream is a possibility.
-testimonial from a Grace Place Ministry graduate