The Keys to Hope

It was two years ago that my friend Debbie came to The Refuge because she had chronic physical needs that had been untreated due to her lack of accessibility to primary care. And with her permission, it is a joy for me to share some of her story with you.

When I met Debbie, she was living with a friend- when that arrangement ended, Debbie found herself living in a “home” with eight strangers, where she slept in a back room with no heat, and often with no running water. This home was later condemned leaving Debbie to find another place to stay. For much of last year she slept on a park bench downtown, and eventually moved to a field where she slept first in a camping chair and then in a tent, or in a hotel when her friend would earn enough money from his job.

It was a day filled with much celebration (and tears, and pictures!) when we moved Debbie into her new apartment. I asked her how long it had been since she had a set of keys for her very own place, and she told me she couldn’t even remember. This was a moment we had prayed daily for, and seeing it come to fruition was a clear picture of God’s provision, faithfulness, and His ability to rebuild our entire lives.

There are so many things I want to tell you about Debbie’s heart, personality, and life. But her words are far better than mine: “Being homeless was very difficult. If I didn’t have God, if I didn’t have my faith, I know I wouldn’t have gotten through it. I would be dead if not for Jesus! Looking back I have realized that God knows exactly what we need, and He knows exactly who we need help from. The Refuge helped me physically, but God used the people to provide me a cushion and a support that I didn’t know I would need when I was so lonely and lost.”

I truly believe we are meant for each other; to be family, friends, advocates, encouragers, celebrators, listeners, etc. It is a privilege to open our lives up to people, and be invited into theirs. Our desire is that our patients would know they are someone who matters so deeply to the God who created them, and they, like Debbie, have a story worth telling.

- Ellen Bentley, Volunteer and Resource Coordinator