“My life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but my grandma was always there for me. When she was sick, and couldn’t care for me, she’d put me back in the foster care system, but she made me a promise that one day she’d get me out, and she did. I thank God for her in my life.”
After high school P.J. joined the Job Corps and AmeriCorps. “That was a turning point for me, a really wonderful experience.” When he met a girl and she got pregnant, they got married and had a son.
Wanting “to be better to my son than my daddy was to me,” he took college classes and attended trade school, but each time dropped out. “I was doing way too much. I was a full-time husband, full-time going to school, and I’d come home and try to be a dad.”
P.J.’s marriage ended after two years. He remarried and his youngest son was born. “I tried to make things right, but I was sinking fast, digging myself a deeper hole, and I took it out on her.” He ran to his grandma, but screamed at “the woman who had done everything for me” and she kicked him out. He apologized, but knew he had to do what she taught him. He tried to fix things with his wife but failed.
With nowhere to go, he came to the Mission. “For the first time in my life I was broken, dealing with lots of feelings.” The staff encouraged him saying, “It’s okay. That’s what we’re here for. This situation isn’t permanent. You’re down now, but you’re not down forever. You’re going to get through this.”
P.J. joined the David Program for young men and likes the “brotherhood” he feels. “We talk, we laugh, we joke and study together,” but I need to act more like Christ is in my life. Everyone keeps reminding me that God accepts me as I am.”
Now he’s working two jobs, one at a granite company. “They started me off as a temp at $8/hr. I bounced back and forth between the shop and installing, wherever my boss needed me. People thought I was crazy working so hard doing this kind of work.” But the company gave him three raises and hired him permanently. He is reaching out to help others get jobs. “I never thought I had it in me, but I did it. I know if I can do it, they can do it, too.”
P.J. is working on his relationships, and is serious about being a great parent. “My main goal is to focus on my kids. I might not be in the household with them, but I want to make sure that their daddy does what he can do for them, showing them they can do anything they put their minds to.”
He wants to start his own company called FTF, for Feed the Family. “Everyone has something that someone wants or needs, whether you are making, buying, or marketing the merchandise, we are all feeding the family.” P.J.’s life quote is “You can’t be afraid of a lion if you want to be King of the Jungle. If you want to be the king, you have to act like a king.”
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, …