Julie is 44 years old. She has three children that she has raised. She has had multiple relationships with men, most of them abusive. She got her GED in her 30’s. She was a victim of molestation by her father as a teenager. She became pregnant and had a child by him as a young teenager; the child was given to another family member to raise. She says that she had blocked it out until she began to have terrible nightmares and someone in her family told her about it. They thought she knew. She said she forgave her father for it when she got older. She has had two abortions, multiple miscarriages due to RH factor mismatch, and three live births to different partners. Her youngest child is 12 and lives with her brother in California until Julie is able to find a job, settle down and take care of her.
The first time Julie went on the road was when she found out that her daughter was raped by her then partner and she ran from him with her daughter. They left Mississippi and headed to Oklahoma. He pursued them, and through the Oklahoma State police they were able to apprehend him. It took the daughter, who was 10 at the time, helping them lure him to her to catch him. He admitted to having sex with her in a conversation with her that was wired and recorded. He was killed in prison within a week of his sentencing to two life terms. The daughter was physically damaged according to Julie and she probably won’t ever be able to bear her own children. She also suffered from PTSD with nightmares until she found out that he was dead. From Oklahoma, Julie headed to California with her daughter where she had grown up and had family. Many people helped her along the way because she was traveling in a van with a daughter and all the belongings she had. A manager at Denny’s fed her, someone else paid for motel rooms for them, others gave them money for gas.
One of the missions they stayed at in California was supposed to be a safe house for victims of abuse, not giving the location of her daughter out to anyone. They left doors unlocked, and the school where she attended called the mission to verify that Julie and her daughter were staying there. That information was not supposed to be given out for their safety. They gave it. There was a tent city in San Bernadino where they stayed for a while. After the fact, Julie found out that there was a large pedophile and child molesters in the area. One of the shelters she stayed at was the Salvation Army. Julie had contacted Child Protective Services seeking help, instead, they came to the Salvation Army women’s shelter, took her daughter and placed her with Julie’s sister. Her daughter has since moved to live with Julie’s brother where Julie says her daughter seems happier there.
Julie is still on the road, she is in Orlando Florida now, with another partner, trying to find her way and get herself fixed so that she can bring her daughter to live with her. She felt she had no other options than to become homeless to help herself and her daughter. Her daughter is now 12. They miss each other. Julie was once a certified nurse’s aide and hopes to get recertified and get herself back on her feet in two months, now that she is in Florida. She’s been robbed by other homeless. Pilfering is a problem. Sleeping safe as a woman is a problem. Being on the road with her daughter was a better situation because people took care of her because she had her daughter with her. Now her circumstances are looked at as someone who is a vagrant, using the system. That isn’t the case. She is simple down on her circumstances and needs a hand up, someone to help her get on her feet. She doesn’t need to be kicked at by people who have so much that they could spare a meal, spare a pair of shoes. She needs a place to get some hygiene…a shower once in a while, so she can interview for a job. She needs decent clothes to wear to the interview. She needs a place to live that won’t take all her money so that she can get into housing of her own and bring her daughter to live with her. She isn’t perfect, she knows it. But she’s human.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Everyone is. This country held opportunity for so many, has been blessed by God, and we as a nation have turned our backs on each other….not just the homeless and the poor, that is just a symptom of our neglect of each other. Why does it take blizzards of phenomenal proportions, train wrecks and collapsed buildings and disasters to make us reach out to each other anymore? How much would it take to help Julie? It doesn’t sound like much…a shower, some clothes and a place to stay for a couple months. She is willing to work it out. And as Christians, we should be helping people like her, not just mouthing that it needs to be done.