Joyce’s story

joyceshandsI was in a long-term relationship, but it ended and I had to start over and support myself. I found jobs, but the pay was low and it was extremely hard work. Finally I couldn’t find a job anymore. I lost two apartments, the unemployment money stopped, and the only way I could make ends meet was prostitution. I had an acquaintance who offered me money and introduced me to other men, so I slept with him in exchange for the contacts. I got to keep my money. I didn’t like it, but I had to have something to live on. I did that for 2 years.

Finally I was able to get a job as live-in caregiver. The first person I worked for was fine, but when she was able to live on her own again, I had to find another place. A man hired me to take care of his disabled sister, but then he started coming on to me. When I refused him, he raped me and then told me to get out. I had nowhere to go, and almost no money. The man owed me $500 for the whole month, but he only gave me $50. He said that was all I was worth.

There was a convenience store where I charged my phone, and for the next two days I called every single place in Memphis, every organization, but everywhere I called, there was either a waiting list or just a ‘no.’ I remember standing on the street in a heavy rainstorm, soaking wet, with no money and no hope.

Finally, I got a call from a shelter, and they said a bed had opened up. I got there as fast as I could and stayed for 3 months. I was so grateful to have somewhere to go. Being there helped me forget for a while what I had gone through. While I was at the shelter, a woman told me about the program I’m in now. It sounded too good to be real, so it was a while before I contacted them, but she kept encouraging me, so I finally applied and got in. That was seven months ago.

Becoming homeless was the major turning point in my life. Because of that journey, I’ve learned what it is to count my blessings and to be grateful. When I get in a bad place, I remember it was by the grace of God that I found this home. I want to get on my feet, complete this program, and try to do something to help other people. That’s my dream.