In July we sent our first electronic version of Against All Odds. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here. To get our newsletter sent to you via email you can sign up by clicking here.
I recently came across a quote from Sister Mary Lou Kownacki which said, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story." Of the many people who come in and out of the Friendship House doors, it is their stories and their names that stay with us. Everything is a story - whether fiction or nonfiction, whether you agree or disagree - it all starts with a story.
Thousands of years ago before we were able to capture stories onto paper, stories were verbally passed on through the generations. The Friendship House staff still spends much of their time listening to our clients' stories. Whether it is the first encounter or the hundredth, there is still something to be learned through listening and something to learn through retelling.
It is our mission to walk with someone on their journey without asking them to be something they are not. Our desire is that each person we encounter will let us into their life through their words. What better way to know someone then to listen, with our ears and our hearts.
This newsletter, our first electronic version of Against All Odds, is just that for you. It is stories from the women at our Women's Day Center: staff, volunteers, clients, and friends. We invite you to read and open your hearts to the stories of what they have to share.
You Don't Have to Walk Alone
I know people say life is an experience. I must say, they did not lie. I thought everything finally was going right for my family and myself. But let me tell you that was a fairy tale.
One day I wasn't feeling like myself, I started feeling tired all the time. Days became weeks, weeks became months and I was not getting any better. Then one day I went to the hospital got a complete work up, then a week later got a call for me to come to the clinic where I had my testing done. I was a little scared but I went and once there I found out I had AIDS, not HIV. I was full blown. I was devastated, but I acted like this could not happen to me and I went home and pretended it was not true.
Let me tell you that truth will make itself known and I got so sick I could not eat anything and drank only fluids. I went from 160 to 89 pounds. My sister picked me up and rushed me to the hospital - thank God - because I was knocking on death's door. I stayed in the hospital for over a week until they were able to get me stabilized. They sent me to a good clinic to help me get my meds, so now I take a lot of meds and because I waited my viral load is so low that it's going to be a hard and long road.
As I started getting better I still went through a lot of problems with my health. I was in and out of the hospital with rare pulmonary ailments that normal people would not get. I continue to have infections and pneumonia. I now find myself homeless and no one to reach out to, or to tell my suffering to, because I am still being judged and labeled.
I went back to a place where I have always gotten help and was not judged. Even when I made mistakes they were always nice to me and told me things I needed to do. Friendship Women's Day Center and their staff has helped me with places to go and agencies to see so that I hope to find housing and try to get healthy. I really appreciate all they have done to help with my meds and just someone to talk to who don't treat me any differently. As I close, the one important thing I want people to know is don' think this is something that cannot happen to you, you are no more immune than I am and you hear what has happened to me. Be careful and always get checked - it may save your life.
LD - A Friendship House Friend