“But you know things just happen,” Julie said with a tired smile that grew quieter as she began to recount painful moments from the last 25 years of her life.
25 years marred by depression.
25 years filled with the struggle that almost took her life.
Julie’s story began in Pennsylvania where she was born into a normal family, in a normal town, with a normal life.
For her first 25 years that is.
Just after Julie’s 25th birthday she headed off on her great adventure to New York City. She was filled with ambitions of “making it big” as a Christian music artist and ignorance of the deep pain to come.
Julie’s music career did not go as expected and as her dreams began to drift away so did her smile, but that was just the beginning of her heartache.
“Things started to get bad when my dad died in 2000.” She said, knowing each loss had drawn her a little deeper into depression, but nothing quite like the loss of her father.
“It got to the point where it was really, really bad for me,” Julie admitted, describing how simple things began to morph into challenges too overwhelming to face. “Okay, a normal person would need to get medical insurance, and just go to the office and do it, for me 5 years go by and I still haven’t done it,” she confessed.
As Julie’s depression became an obstacle too high to conquer, her home became the same. Simple tasks like opening mail, washing dishes, and doing laundry had become impossible. She explained, “You let things get into piles and piles, it gets to the point where there are 12 bags of laundry and it’s overwhelming.”
By 2006, the clutter in Julie’s home made her bed so inaccessible that she resorted to sleeping on cushions as a makeshift bed in a small space on her kitchen floor. Julie lived this way for 10 years.
She needed help.
In 2016 Julie reached her breaking point as her landlord demanded change. Letters and threats of eviction piled high; she had lost hope. “I was crying to God on the floor of my apartment asking and pleading for help,” Julie remembered.
Julie was on the verge of taking her own life.
That is when God connected Julie to the Dream Center.
She was referred to us by an organization in her neighborhood and was quickly enrolled in our Visits program. Visits connects volunteers to clients throughout the city and facilitates weekly visits to each client's home. This program allows our team to serve a predominantly elderly community, at no cost to them, in whatever way they need.
Within a couple weeks, Dream Center volunteers began visiting Julie’s apartment. Her smile slowly began to return.
With a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes Julie described her first encounters with our team, “My prayers were answered by God that you guys even came into my life, it was a miracle. You saved my life.”
As progress developed in Julie’s apartment, so did healing. Whether laughing over finding five of the same spatula or carrying bags too large to lift to the curb, Julie said her time with our volunteers was always filled with joy.
These moments sparked Julie’s hope in conquering depression. As time went by and relationships grew, Julie’s home became less of a project and she became more of a friend.
Julie was no longer at a threat of taking her life.
“I can talk about anything, I can talk about God,” beamed Julie “You proved there [are] people who care, not because they win points or we pay them, because this is their hearts”
“I couldn't have done any of that myself - it would've been too much for me,” Julie explained as she recalled what has been accomplished during her time as a Dream Center client.
Julie still gets overwhelmed with simple tasks, but every time the team leaves her apartment she feels inspired. “The coolest part - once they come they definitely are doing something - and they get me motivated, making sure I get to laundromat, so that means I’m doing laundry,” she exclaimed.
While Julie has made great strides in bringing her apartment back to life alongside our volunteers, the biggest progress has been healing in her heart. Julie went from being alone to loved, suicidal to hopeful, and confinement to freedom.
Julie is continuing work on her apartment and has lots of goals, and we are committed to help her get there.
Each week, our teams serve people in apartments throughout the city. Julie explains the purpose of our Visits program best when she explains the difference it has made in her life, “What you guys do with home visits - this is the most unselfish thing I’ve ever seen or heard of, being so giving of yourselves truly makes such an impact on the lives of the people you help.”
Julie’s story is just one of thousands that the Dream Center has had the opportunity to be a part of this year.
We are eager to see what God has in store for 2018, but we cannot do it alone.
It is because of your generosity that we are able to serve our neighbors through our weekly City Missions Programs, so we ask for your help as we prepare for our 2018 season.
Your generosity changes lives. Your generosity gives hope to the many who, like Julie was, are stuck.
Give to Season of Compassion today, and give your neighbors a chance to hope again.
Click Here to give today.
** At the Dream Center we respect those that we serve – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.