Jackie’s Story: A Way Made in the Wilderness


"I was living in my car and then I think a year passed and I couldn't keep my job and I couldn't keep the payments for the car. I did end up for about three weeks on the street and then a place opened up [at Simonka Place] for me.

"It's not about what other people think of me, it's not about what other people say I should say or do. It's about who Jesus says I am..."

Looking at Jackie, you see a beautiful young woman; vibrant, well put together, friendly. You’d never know the things she’s seen or the injustice she’s endured.  

“Before coming to the Mission, I was a mess,” she says.  

And no one would blame her. A raw reality, Jackie was sexually abused by her father and was eventually sold to a callous man in Texas. Six children and five years later, Child Protective Services interrupted her horror story before Jackie moved in with an aunt.  

Yet Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made living a peaceful and stable life nearly impossible. Teetering on the brink, Jackie couldn’t catch her balance. Eventually she was homeless, using drugs to make life more bearable. 

On September 9, 2019, Jackie checked into Simonka Place. 

“I was hoping to find safety, find healing. I was really scared. I was just trying to figure out how to live,” she explains. 


Over the course of two years, God used the Mission to daily nurture and spring forth rivers in the desert of what was Jackie’s life. She has learned that the love of God is guaranteed — resting in Him has brought a security that nothing in this world could ensure. 

“Since coming to the Mission, I am full of hope… I used to hate myself. I used to be desperate and longing for acceptance from others. And I have learned to accept myself and give myself grace,” she says. 

Your gifts to Union Gospel Mission of Salem made mental health counseling, life skills classes, safe shelter, mentorship, education programs, and life-giving community possible for Jackie. 

You gave her a second chance and God made a way in the wilderness of a difficult past.

“A lot of times for people who come here and who are still on the street, nobody is giving them a chance. But the Mission does.” 

Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am going to do something new, now it will spring up; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

Let’s continue the story. We invite you to learn how UGM’s education programs have paved the way for Jackie’s success outside of the Mission. Register today for our February 18 “Stop for the One” luncheon at ugmsalem.org/events/stop-for-the-one-2022 

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