Seeing: It’s something so simple, and so often taken for granted—except for when you can’t see.

Heather isn’t blind, but at just 45 years old her vision was heading that way. A diabetic, she’d already had cataract surgery on one eye and needed it on the other. In addition, Heather was diagnosed with a meningioma. Though her brain tumor is not cancerous, it has caused seizures and difficulties with her vision.

Her poor health is what caused Heather to lose her job and her apartment. For a while, she jumped from the home of one friend to another, but with no income and a long fight for disability ahead, the welcome at her friends’ homes soon wore off, she said.

On the verge of homelessness, Heather heard about The Union Mission from her sister in Georgia. With no place else to turn, Heather called the Women’s Shelter that day and thankfully found an opening that allowed her to come that day to stay.

She admits that when she first learned of the Mission’s Wellness Program, her attitude was, “Whatever!” But before long she came to recognize the value of being able to connect with a primary care physician through the Sentara Community Care Center on site here the Mission. The doctor there could oversee her medical care, so Heather would no longer need to struggle with the difficulties of her lack of vision or transportation.

In addition, the Mission’s Wellness Team could offer day-to-day assistance monitoring her blood sugars and picking up her prescriptions. They provided her with a glucometer with test strips, lancets, and alcohol prep pads, as well as helping teach Heather how to organize her weekly meds until she felt comfortable enough to do it on her own.

In addition, Heather also notes the wonderful emotional support she has found from the Wellness Team and the Women’s Shelter staff—compassionate listening, acceptance, kindness.

“If I could tell anyone anything about the Mission, I would say, ‘Don’t be afraid to come here! The staff are really loving and supportive. They care, and they will do anything they can to help you!”

For a while, Heather was able to leave The Union Mission and live independently. She was delighted that her new residence was close to the other Sentara Community Care Center in the Berkley area of Norfolk, where she could continue to see Dr. Charles as her PCP. She knew that she would need to schedule some eye surgery and connect with a neurologist for continued monitoring of her brain tumor. And as much as she’d love to be able to drive and to go on a vacation, she recognizes that her life is in a different place right now. “I don’t like using the word ‘disabled,’ but I have to accept that I am.”

When independent living proved to be too difficult with all that was going on in Heather’s life, her needs forced her to ask our Women’s Shelter if she could return. She says it’s a blessing that an encore stay was possible. Here again, Heather grew stronger and stronger, both in her life and in her faith. “Knowing I have a place to call home and having the help to getting to a new beginning, having my sisters around for the journey God has me on to get my health well, I am grateful!” Heather remains optimistic about her future in the Lord.

“I have no fear any more. God is great! God is good! God is the greatest gift, and I am trusting Him!”

After a few more months here at the Mission’s Women’s Shelter, Heather was able to work out details to stay indefinitely with her cousin in nearby Newport News. Living on her own, if her health will allow, is still her goal, and Heather says she will continue to fight to be ALL that she can be. Most of all, she is thankful to The Union Mission and our staff for everything that we were able to do for her. With solid help while on life’s journeys, Heather is hopeful: “Now, I’m off to a new beginning!”

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