My story began in the Philippines. I was married, had three beautiful children, and was a successful businesswoman. After 26 years, my marriage collapsed. I had to take my husband to court to try and get my fair share of our assets, but the court ruled in his favor. I was left with nothing. Thankfully, my children were adults, as I had no choice but to move to Seattle to temporarily live with my elderly parents.
I am no stranger to hard work. I got my Certified Nursing Assistant certificate and began working full time as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home in Seattle. After several months, I was able to get an apartment nearby. One day I was helping a patient who was nearly twice my size. She slipped to the floor as I was trying to help her into her wheelchair, and I severely injured my shoulder.
I started to receive a small monthly amount of money from Workers Compensation, but it wasn’t enough to pay the rent for my apartment, so I had to move out. I started to sleep on friend’s couches, which, as I have learned from others experiencing homelessness, is called “couch surfing”. A counselor from Goodwill helped me apply for classes at North Seattle Community College, as it was clear I would need to change my career. I started classes in early childhood education. Although in chronic pain, I loved this new challenge!
I was told by my doctor that I couldn’t schedule surgery for my shoulder until I had a stable place to live and a bed to sleep in. Then I heard from my counselor that Elizabeth Gregory Home offered transitional housing.
On my first day at Elizabeth Gregory Home’s Day Center, I learned they were expecting an opening in their transitional housing program. Two weeks after I applied and interviewed, my prayers to God were answered. I was offered the spot, and this past September, I moved into the house. That was such a happy day!
Although it can be challenging at times to live with seven other women, I feel great joy because we share stories, food, and our cultures.
I had my shoulder surgery last November and the Qi Gong classes that are offered at the Transitional Home have helped speed my recovery. But I also have gotten help from Elizabeth Gregory Home staff to address not just my shoulder issue, but many other health issues. I have kidney problems, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, and a foot problem. But today, thanks to all the support from EGH, I am healthier than I have been in years!
As my body is healing, my spirits are lifting. I am able to volunteer each week at a local senior center, as well as at my church. As my concentration has improved, so have my grades at college! I recently received my grades for the winter quarter, and my grade point average is 3.88! I have been invited to not only join the Honors Society at North Seattle Community College but was asked if I would consider serving as the next Vice President!
I hope to have an associates’ degree in early childhood education after three more quarters. Thanks to Elizabeth Gregory Home, my dreams are coming true.
Update: Josie graduated in June 2018 with honors.