Jacque came to Oregon for a new start after her father had passed away, and met her now ex-boyfriend shortly after arriving. “I stayed with him for quite a while because not only did I not know anybody here, but I was also kind of trapped in the cycle of abuse,” she said. “So, after about four years it got to the point where I had to make a choice; I was either going to be homeless and live on the streets or continue living with him.”
ESCAPING FROM HER ABUSER
After four years of abuse and control, Jacque walked away from her home and from her abuser. “I decided I wasn’t going to come back. And so, that’s when I had to actually go live outside,” she said. “At first, I was living on sidewalks. And then I found a little campsite right up River Road … and that’s where I stayed over the summer and I found a job.”
Eventually, Jacque was able to buy a car, which made for more secure shelter compared to the flimsy tent. But after a month, she discovered that the cold November weather made the vehicle unlivable, and by this time, the car had broken down anyway. Now desperate, she ventured to Simonka Place where a bed was available.
FINDING SAFE SHELTER
At our Simonka Place for Women and Children, Jacque found a safe, caring environment to live for ten months while she worked, saved money, and figured out her next steps. Here Jacque felt seen and heard, not judged. “I’m also really glad that I wasn’t treated like a drug addict, and people respected me and saw a lot of good in me.”
Staying at Simonka Place led Jacque to an opportunity that was beyond anything she could’ve expected – a scholarship through UGM’s Careers Track Program. “I think because this place gave me that opportunity, I couldn’t turn it down. I just thought that yeah, this is definitely where I’m supposed to go because I’ve always wanted to go back to college.”
THE PURSUIT OF A LONG-TERM CAREER
Through the Careers Track Program, Jacque and nine others can attend Chemeketa Community College and earn Associate’s degrees free of charge. For Jacque, this program opened doors beyond stability and a job – she can now pursue a future and a long-term career that she wasn’t sure was possible.
“Right now, I’m getting my Associates of Arts Transfer Degree. I want to go to university and I want to become a social worker or a therapist or a licensed psychotherapist,” said Jacque. “And my focus would be addiction studies, or to help other women in domestic abuse situations or to become a social worker.”
“There’s so much brokenness out there. I want to be an advocate; I want to be a part of a system that treats women with respect and dignity... something that some of them haven’t had in a long time.”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
IMPACT THEIR STORY
You can contribute to the Career Tracks Scholarship fund today! By providing this life-changing opportunity, you’re building brighter futures for men and women like Jacque! Give today at ugmsalem.org/donate.