“J” is a young single woman who was homeless on and off as a youth. She described growing up in a chaotic and abusive family which consequently led to her living in shelters with other youths, and in group homes. She shared that she suffered a lot at the mercy of her parents, was the blacksheep of the family and was “scapegoated.” She developed mental health issues due to the abuse, which was a major factor in her homelessness.

J has experienced being homeless in a couple of different states. She has, at different times, lived with friends, but has always known within herself that it was “me, myself, and I” in which she could consistently rely. J shared that a couple of years ago, she had her own apartment, shared it with her cat, feeling like they had their own “little home together.” But she was struggling with her mental health issues, didn’t have the money or resources, or motivation, to decorate the home, nor did she think she truly deserved it.

She bounced around a lot, living in numerous areas in Northern California, before finding her way to Santa Rosa. As she described it, she felt “called here.” This is the town she is meant to “make my place;” to get to work on becoming who she is supposed to be and not “who I was in the past.”

Inspired Spaces Foundation was privileged to work with J and help her create her sanctuary, her home. She expressed gratitude to the team for creating and giving her her space. She thinks it is “wonderful, feminine, sheik, and Boho.” She appreciated that we understood the importance art played in her life and set up her space so she had places to place her artwork. “It is so nice to have my own space with my own art displayed.” Having her new home and settling into her new community has truly given her a fresh start. When first meeting J, she was shy, introverted and guarded. After she achieved permanent housing and settled into her home, she quickly transformed into a vibrant, engaging and eager young woman ready to take her next step in her life, whatever that may be.

Now that she is settled into a safe and secure place, meeting neighbors with shared experiences of homelessness and developing relationships, she is now focusing on working towards her “independence to the fullest.” She said that she is proud of herself for enduring and finally making it. She recently earned her driver’s permit, and when asked what was next on her agenda, she said she would “take my life one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. My permit is one step, then a car; get a feel of what it’s like to be in genuine control of my own life, my own independence.” She is dedicated to shedding the outdated versions of herself that do not exist any longer.

J has a few sayings that she believes in and tries to integrate into her life. One from “A Cinderella Story,” in which one character says, “Anything is possible if you just believe;” one from Eleanor Roosevelt, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” She ended her story with stating, “treat yourself well and treat yourself. Love yourself for who you are, as an individual, as a human, as someone on this earth that deserves their place on this earth. Abuse can just tear you down, the streets will tear you down, but it is always about ‘who am I?’ and you have to dig deep.”

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