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 Johnny: Addiction to Fairytale
“Everything I lost I got back, everything and more.”
Johnny and his wife hit hard times and found themselves at Dallas LIFE after drugs and other things made paying bills difficult. “We were looking for a way to turn our life around. Coming in here and getting to be a part of this program spiritually and to be able to get close to the Lord was really the defining moment for me.”
Classes, teacher and mentors showed him that is was alright to have a past to overcome. “The best thing is the people who come to understand what I was going through. I thought I was the only one having such a rough time in life but I heard others struggled too and that made me more comfortable and realize that I can overcome my issues and so I have.”
Johnny was able to step away from his outside problems and really look at the kind of man he wanted to be. “Everything I was doing wrong I have gotten away from. They sheltered me and then I got a job and got to become a supervisor and that experience really put me on a different path.”
Johnny and his wife are employed at Dallas LIFE and after graduating they moved into their own home with their children now having been reunited to them. The ability to work at Dallas LIFE has allowed Johnny to see things in a new light. “I never really studied the Bible the way I was supposed to. Before anything Jesus was a servant and if he can serve, I can too.”
After accomplishing so much in his time at Dallas LIFE, Johnny gives the credit to God and his time in the program. “Our story is really like a fairytale. Everything that could happen right or us has happened to us since we have been here. Dallas LIFE changed my life, this place has helped me out so much.”
Johnny was the featured speaker at his Dallas LIFE graduation and after sharing his story he encouraged others to join the program and work hard at it. He knows the value of what it has given him and his family. “Everything we lost we got back, everything and much more.”
Meet Derwin & Frances: Repo to Restored
“There should be a Dallas Life everywhere.”
What started out as a few leaky pipes resulted in Derwin and his wife, Frances, losing their house and most everything they owned. “After paying for repairs and water bills costing over $800 a month, she lost her job and then I lost mine,” Derwin explains. “We quickly went through our savings and before we knew it, two cars disappeared from the driveway.”
Repo.” Frances whispers.
After living in hotel rooms with their three kids, ages 5, 8, and 16, the couple turned to Dallas LIFE. “I heard about it from a woman at church.” Frances recalls. “She said it was a good place for children and families.” “We really believe that when we came here, it was God controlling our steps,” Derwin adds.
After arriving at Dallas LIFE, both Derwin and Frances earned jobs at the shelter and their children also adjusted incredibly well. “They fell right into it!” Derwin laughs. “There was one thing that really helped the transition and that was putting a name to our family. We took our last name, and put “TEAM” in front of it. No matter what we do or where we go, we do it together, as a team. And they love that closeness.” With the help and support of Dallas LIFE, all three of their children got involved in after school activities and their oldest son began his first job. He’s caught on super quickly in his training. “They told him that training for the job usually takes about 13 weeks. For him, they said it would only take three weeks.” Derwin beams. Both Derwin and Frances graduated from the Homeless No More Recovery Program. When asked to name their favorite program class, neither of them could name one. Instead, they named five. “They’re not preaching at you. They’re giving you life lessons, things that are going to help you on your walk with God.” Derwin explains.
Frances nods before adding, “I know that there’s a purpose to the program. It helped me to see a lot of things that I didn’t see before, and helped me grow in ways that I didn’t think I needed to.”
One thing that both Derwin and Frances made perfectly clear is that they will not keep their new found success—and faith—to themselves.
When we were established in a home we used to say we need to go give back and volunteer. We need to take our kids and show them how the less fortunate live. We never did. Now both agree that we will give back to Dallas LIFE,” Derwin states. “God uses us as seeds. He blesses us with certain things, but those things are meant to bless someone else with, not for us to hold onto. Our cup is already overflowing.”
Derwin then raises a hand. “I gotta say one more thing. There should be a Dallas LIFE everywhere.” How great that would be!
Since graduating the Gooden family has stayed independent, they have housing for their family and jobs. They are also very involved in their local church and Derwin helps lead an evangelism ministry. They both look back and see Dallas LIFE as the change they needed and they are glad their lives will never be the same again.
Meet Tiffany: From Worry to Peace…
“Every day I wake up feeling light.”
The first thing you notice about Tiffany is her contagious smile. Her personality seems to bubble over as she excitedly explains her journey before, during and after her time at Dallas LIFE.
“Over the years, my back pain worsened resulting in me not being able to work.” Tiffany explained that a family member researched online, found Dallas LIFE and suggested Tiffany explore her options. After resisting at first, Tiffany details a series of events that unfolded which ultimately pointed her to Dallas LIFE.
When asked what her biggest lesson was that she learned, she didn’t hesitate before saying, “Be still and let God’s timing work perfectly. I found myself trying to get to the bottom of everything all the time, and that is when I would lose my peace.”
On the 90th day of the program, Tiffany accepted a part-time job in the workforce development program at Dallas LIFE. In between this time and graduation, Tiffany said, “Whenever there were hiccups or bumps that would have normally sent me into a panic, I now had a much more peaceful and trusting attitude in the Lord.” An attitude she says is a product of the programs offered here.
“Every day, I wake up feeling light, without the weight of the world, which is something I have never felt before. I completely attribute this to my experience here. I was allowed to get where I needed to be on my time, well, on God’s time for me.”
“People considering Dallas LIFE should know that they are not alone.” Furthermore, she said something that makes this program so special is the lack of stereotyping and inclusion of all people. After graduating early, Tiffany found an apartment in her dream location. She also enrolled in college and graduated with two degrees. Her current job allows her to utilize both of her degrees. She is anticipating a purchase of a vehicle soon. Tiffany wants to remind people going through hardships to not lose faith in themselves or the Lord. “The harder the situation, the greater the reward.”
Meet Allison: A Graduate & A Mom!
“I found God, patience & hope.”
“I did not want to be at Dallas LIFE.”
Allison had fallen on hard times after losing her job and staying as long as possible with family and friends. She needed another option for herself and her son. Her attempts to start fresh just were not working and she decided to try a homeless shelter. The first place she tried wasn’t working out or giving her the ability to search for a job and better herself. Her mother heard about Dallas LIFE and Allison decided to give it a try.
Allison recalls how arriving at Dallas LIFE was a real challenge, “When we first got here, it was really difficult. Being homeless was something new, I was angry and hurt.” Allison joined the program because she had no other option for herself and her son. She began to take the classes and kept pushing through her pain as she got a lot of encouragement from the staff and her program director. “I would get words of encouragement and I wouldn’t give up.” Allison remembers through tears the caring words and prayers of the staff that got her through.
Once Allison really decided to apply what she was learning to her life and she began to listen and learn, her heart began to change. “I started noticing a change in myself, I was smiling more too.” Getting over her depression and anger led her to keep moving on through everything, including the birth of her second child. “I was able to get over different obstacles,” Allison says proudly, “the fact I was able to graduate with two kids is a big accomplishment.”
Allison graduated the Homeless No More Program with her 3 year old son and newborn baby by her side. Allison thinks back to her life change experience, “Before I came here I had a distance between myself and God and the classes helped bring me closer to God and build that relationship.” Allison got a job during the program and was able to start working towards the future of her family.
Psalm 46:10 means a great deal to Allison “Be still and know that I am God.” She fondly remembers this verse helping her get through the program. “If someone wants to change their life they need to focus and take in what the program has to teach them. Just try because it might not be something you want to do and it’s scary but go for it, you will appreciate it.”
Meet Tommi: Tears to Triumph
“I now have a family again.”
With her voice shaking and tears streaming down her cheeks, Tommie emotionally shares her account of what lead her to Dallas Life and how her life was changed by the experience.
“I was out of luck with no more options left.” She realized her only choice was to find help for herself. “All the bridges I had, I burnt them at both ends two or three times.”, she explains.
Tommie came to Dallas Life after hearing about if from a group of friends she knew. The first three nights at the shelter were difficult for her. She admits to having feelings of being alone with no one to talk with and wanting to be anywhere but at a shelter.
Although her transition was difficult at first, Tommie decided she would give herself six weeks. The six weeks became six months and then a year she is still a part of the Dallas Life family.
Over time Tommie discovered that her decision to stay would truly change her life and her outlook on life. When speaking on the changes she sees in her life she states, “I really didn’t care about anyone but myself then… and I started changing, went to counseling and went to church here, and started talking to other people…and their troubles was worse than mine…which I thought mine was terrible, but as it come it wasn’t.”
Tommie’s sister and son have also noticed the changes and realized that she has worked hard to become a better person. Tommie is a familiar face in the Dallas Life C-Store. For anyone in need of help she is willing to lend a hand. She is also willing to help anyone coming through the doors of Dallas Life find the people and the program they need to make positive changes during difficult times. Tommie graduated the program and is ready for her new future to start!
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 – 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.”
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. 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.”