Pamela was born and raised in Norfolk by both parents, one of six children. She graduated from high school and went to college earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs. “I worked at Thalhimers, Sun Trust Bank, SEACEP, ODU, and Norfolk State University.” She got married in 1979, then divorced in 1992. “I have one daughter, 35, and a grandson, Kayden.
I was the result of a scam. Some men came to my door. I thought it was solicitors. They said, ‘We just bought your house this morning.’ They put signs on my door and told me I had to leave the house. I didn’t pay the attention that I should have, and I didn’t call the police or pursue it. I didn’t realize that it was real. My credit report said, it was a foreclosure, so I stayed with my daughter for a year and three months. Then I lived in my car for two-three months this past summer, staying in a parking lot at Walmart. I came to the shelter for day services because they didn’t have any beds. I tried to pull up in front of my old house and sleep there, but the neighbors were concerned and called the police, and then I went to Walmart. I would get up early in the morning about 5:00 or 6:00 and brush my teeth and go into Walmart to use the bathroom, then park my car where I felt safe, until I could come to the shelter at 10:00 AM when the Day Center opened.”
She’s not working now but left Sun Trust and started receiving Social Security at age 55, because “I didn’t have employment at that time. Ultimately I got a bed in July.
At my daughters house I was lying down most of the time not looking for a job and not in the Word and I’ve been in the Word most of my life, so I was filled with anxiety.
It’s been excellent here, because prior to this, for two years, I hadn’t been going to church and not while I was at my daughter’s house either. I got out of the Word. Here is a structured environment. Yes, there is some time when you’re sitting around, but you try to make the best of that. You have Bible study twice a day, which was the best thing that could have happened, because it took me back into the Word, and you go to Chapel on Sunday. You could feel in your heart that you’re not the same person. I’m not saying the Holy Spirit wasn’t there, because one of my favorite scriptures is, ‘God causes all things to work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28. I knew that He was with me.
They had a healthy boundaries class with other females. When I was home for those two years, and over the years, I worked long hours and didn’t have relationships, because I was raising my daughter. I’ve not cultivated a lot of friendships. My job was in Human Resources at a professional level. The friends that I did have, I didn’t make the effort, because I worked such long hours. When I wasn’t working I was trying to raise my family. I could have been in environments where there was a lot of comradery, and I wasn’t, so when I came to the shelter, there were these females. It is better because there is comradery between females. I don’t go around asking people their business, but I try to be friendly and respectful to all the ladies and consequently they seem to respect me as well. I like the friendships, or rather the relationships, you are forging in the shelter as well, and try to be encouraging to each other. You learn about boundaries, but I never really thought about the Ten Commandments as boundaries, but they are. When it says, ‘Honor the Sabbath’ or ‘Honor thy father and mother,’ that’s the days of promise when you will come into the land.
My goals are still to be employed. I consider employment health. I always have been successful in the different jobs I’ve been in. I would like to do something that I’ve done before, somewhere that I can be successful, just somewhere that I can give back, and of course get paid for it. I also want to find some housing so I can be independent. I was divorced so many years ago and been on my own, and all of a sudden, I’m not doing fine anymore and I’m here at the shelter. The staff are helping me get two contacts a day. You are responsible for putting yourself out there, but here there’s assistance as well.
If it wasn’t for the Mission, I hate to think about it, because I’m more myself. I feel like I’m grounded in the Word in the Mission, more so than when I wasn’t here. That’s why my daughter and I got along fine, but it wasn’t good to be in her home at that particular time. I am grateful for the Mission and the ladies here, plus the ladies that come in every Wednesday for Bible study. We have tapes we listen to and videos every night. There’s a variety of people, a lot of diversity and you’re getting the Word. You can tell these people have been vetted to show that the Word of God is being delivered in such a way that it brings glory to God and it’s not a negative impact in any way on the Mission. I’ve just gotten a lot out of it.
I have several job prospects, a lead I need to follow up on, and I’m on a waiting list for housing. My Case Manager is working with me and things are running smoothly. Maybe not as quickly as I‘d like, but I have a lot of respect for the people here and what they do. I was reading Psalm 1, ‘like a tree planted by the rivers you prosper’ and I’ve been prospering. I consider myself prospering now at The Union Mission.”
Brittle Bones, Resilient Spirit Osteogenesis imperfecta. Shon has lived with it since 1973, in other words, his entire life. “It’s a hereditary bone disease,” he says. “I got it from my mom. She got it from her dad. There’s a 50/50 chance that you could pass it on to your offspring—and I passed it on …
Dena never expected to find herself living in a homeless shelter, let alone living in a homeless shelter with her four girls and just a month from delivering her fifth. But that’s exactly what happened. Born in Richmond and reared in Hampton Roads, Dena, 34, had always been independent. She was raised by her grandmother, …
“Life has been trying to make me feel old,” says Khalil, 27. “But I’m still young—and I’m determined to be better than I was yesterday.” “My childhood was filled with ups and downs, but it just had more downs than ups.” Khalil grew up in Hampton Roads as a shy kid who loved music, skateboarding, …