Stories of Faith & Hope From Our Graduates
Our staff can tell you all about Dallas LIFE, our programs and services. But those who tell Dallas LIFE's story best are our residents. Read what our New Life Program graduates have to say about their time at Dallas LIFE. You can't help but be encouraged!
Meet LaShawnda: It Can Happen to Anyone...
"I never thought in a million years this would happen to me."
LaShawnda and her husband had good jobs – she at a major retailer and he at a worldwide manufacturing company. They lived along with their one-year old in a nice house, and often entertained friends. There was no warning that life was about to blindside them, and when it did, they found themselves without a support system.
"First, I lost my job," LaShawnda explained. "I thought we'd be OK while I looked for a new one, but then my husband lost his job. It was surreal." Though they both diligently looked for work, within a few months, they lost their savings, their car – and ultimately, their home.
With no family in the Metroplex and no money to travel to their hometown in New York, there were few options. For LaShawnda, a homeless shelter was totally out of the question. Friends opened their home, and LaShawnda's struggling family moved in with them. It was not very long before the friends faced eviction. Anger, resentment, and depression began to take deep root in LaShawnda's life. Much had happened in such a short period of time, and none of it had been good.
Her sister called to tell her of a homeless shelter that looked like the perfect place for LaShawnda's family. Living out of state, she had discovered it online. It was Dallas LIFE. Though she was still strongly against going to a homeless shelter, LaShawnda called Dallas LIFE. They were warmly welcomed. LaShawnda enrolled in the 10-month New LIFE program. And – a new baby was on the way.
LaShawnda graduated from the New Life program in February 2014. She assists new women when they come to Dallas LIFE and understands the fear they feel. She assures them they are in the best place to make a fresh start. Her anger, resentment and depression have dissolved into peace and hope. And her new baby girl has safely arrived. "I'm not the same person," LaShawnda beams. "I wouldn't trade my time at Dallas LIFE for anything. It gave me a safe place to recover spiritually, physically and emotionally. I will definitely give back."
Brigitte: Addicted, Lost & Confused
"Dallas LIFE made me new again."
Most of our New Life recovery program participants have at least some "buyer's remorse" when days in that 10-month period become arduous. Not Brigitte. When she arrived at Dallas LIFE broke, strung out, and weighing in at less than 80 pounds, she was READY to get busy. She signed up for the New Life program on her second day at Dallas LIFE. And she never looked back.
"It made me new again," she states without hesitation.
Addicted to crack for 33 years and estranged from her family, Brigitte appeared at Dallas LIFE lost and confused, and without a reason to believe that this experience would be any different than any other time she had tried to get clean. "That was until God grabbed me," she proclaims. "I can't describe it any other way."
Brigitte became a model New Life student, graduated and got an apartment. She earned a certificate in medical coding and billing and is in college working toward a degree. She has a job in the Dallas LIFE security office and encourages residents to persevere through the program, and to find God.
Remember Brigitte's estranged family? Her parents attended her graduation and listened proudly to her address the audience. Her entire family later celebrated Christmas together for the first time in 30 years.
"My life is full of joy and opportunity, and it's because of what God did for me through Dallas LIFE." Brigitte never looked back, indeed.
Judy: A New Beginning- At 65!
"I found God, patience & hope."
"Most shelters don't know what to do with someone like me."
By "someone like me," Judy is referring to the fact that she was 65 years old when she arrived at Dallas LIFE. In the world of homeless recovery, senior adults are something of an anomaly – but not here! At Dallas LIFE there is not only a place, but also a plan for homeless seniors.
Judy's world had unraveled in a moment, when a random drug test at work resulted in felony charges for carrying her own daily prescription medications in one prescription bottle. A prolonged legal battle continued, left Judy without a job – and with the realization that she had become addicted to prescription drugs.
She went to live with relatives in East Texas, "but I didn't want to be around all their meds," Judy reflects. An Internet search revealed that Dallas LIFE was a place that took seniors, and she soon made her way here. The kindness of the staff and residents made a strong first impression, and within a short time she joined the New Life recovery program. She also completely stopped taking medications, because for the first time in a very long time, Judy sensed that God was with her and would give her the strength to change. She graduated from the program in February 2014 and now lives happily in her own apartment. "Dallas LIFE helped me find God, taught me patience, and gave me hope," Judy smiles confidently. She believes in the power of a new beginning – and that it can still happen at 65!
Anna: The Voice of Dallas Life
"I felt welcomed and safe."
Life circumstances had sent Anna to Georgia to live with her brother. But things did not work out. "That's how I became homeless," she reflects. "And I did graduate from college, so it was devastating to lose not only everything but also everyone, and have nowhere to go. So I came to Dallas by bus, and then to Dallas LIFE."
Being a single female, Anna's first concern was her personal safety. She immediately found that Dallas LIFE places great emphasis on the safety and well being of its residents. She immediately felt welcomed by the staff and safe in the shelter.
Anna joined the New Life program and got to work on her own emotional healing. She graduated in 2012 from the program. Having never attended church before, she also discovered the chapel services at Dallas LIFE to be "one of the greatest things about this place." Anna found out through Dallas LIFE that God loves her and she has built her new life on that spiritual foundation.
Anna serves as our receptionist, and there is no better person to be the first voice you hear at Dallas LIFE! She carefully explains to each caller or visitor exactly how everything works at Dallas LIFE, what is expected and what can be accomplished here.
But what brings the biggest smile from Anna is to hear her say that she is now "welcomed" by her father and stepmother. Their estranged relationship has been restored and they spend time together at holidays. So it's no exaggeration when Anna can be heard on the phone telling someone that Dallas LIFE is "outstanding."
Omar: Finding His Potential
"I was changed, immediately."
Say "good morning" to Omar and prepare to be encouraged – or perhaps even have your entire day turned around.
Omar has a special gift of joy, which could have been snuffed out when his own world fell apart, but didn't.
He lost his job, which was terrible enough. But Omar had some health issues that needed to be addressed, so losing his benefits was a second wave of disaster. "It threw me into having to consider going to a shelter," he reflects, "and I have to admit, the stigma of that was almost too much to handle."
When Omar found out about Dallas LIFE – that it had a program to help with life issues, a job search and finding housing, PLUS a medical clinic, he knew that God was about to do big things in his life. "He gave me provision, perspective, and purpose through the New Life program. I was changed, immediately." He was loved, immediately, as well, and became a constant encouragement to his classmates and the staff at Dallas LIFE.
Omar graduated from the New Life program in February 2014 – with much celebration from his fellow graduates and program directors! He is now on staff as the manager of the Dallas LIFE Convenience store.
"I have a college degree, but the New Life program is so much more valuable to me," Omar emphasizes, with his infectious joy. "Dallas LIFE is where I found what my true potential really is."
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