Julie’s story: Grace at hand for homeless family
In her thirties, Julie’s future looked bright, a husband and family, a degree and a developing career. Yet less than 10 years later, she was homeless and living on the streets.
“I was always ‘cyclone Julie’, the one madly trying to fix everyone’s problems … But here I was trying to bath in a public toilet without anyone knowing,” she said. “It was just so humiliating. I never expected my life could turn into this.”
Ironically, it was Julie’s sense of family responsibility that caused her desperate situation. Her father back in New Zealand developed terminal cancer and she returned with her youngest, Nikkia, to take care of him.
But life had more challenges. Just before her father died Julie discovered she had thyroid cancer.
She married a friend she met online, Lee, who had supported her during her cancer treatment, but poor work opportunities and persistent family tension soon took its toll on the new family.
Their home was now her trusty Toyota Corolla, parked covertly behind a truck stop for almost two months. Fear filled Julie’s life and she was always anxious that at any time she could lose her family to the tyranny of the streets and end up alone.
With no fixed address it was hard to get work and there was no ‘local’ school for Nikkia. “Mum was teaching me stuff herself, she’s really smart …But it’s hard to make friends without school.”
Julie sought out help and met Grace, a Wesley Mission community engagement team case worker in Gosford.
“Grace was a God-send” Julie said. “She understood we wanted to stay together. Yes, we needed help, but she still treated us with respect. Without Wesley’s help who knows where I’d be today. I came so close to losing everything.”
“It was great to feel human again,” Julie said. “Nikkia started school and we could connect with the world around us again.”
“Julie is proof that a helping hand at the right time can make all the difference,” said case worker Grace.
Julie admits she has learnt a lot about herself and life and thanks to Grace’s help; she now has the strength and resilience to be not just the person she was before, but to be the best of that person.