Dawn Armstrong

Homelessness has a face…and it’s mine.

I come from a long line of broken women and bad men.  By the time I was 14, I had experienced so much suffering and abuse that I was tired of being scared all of the time. One day I packed a bag and headed for the city. I didn’t know where I would go, or what I would do…but I knew that I had to get out of there.
No one came looking for me, either.

By nature, I am an introvert. I was always quiet and reserved as a child, never asking for much. Needing things got me into trouble. I learned to stay shadows to avoid that trouble. Being homeless however, it taught me how to be an extrovert. I knew that if I wanted a meal or a place to sleep, I had to learn to make friends quickly. I learned to read people well and to listen when they talked. I always knew when it was time leave. It was around the time that parents started asking,

“Do her parents know she’s been here for three days?”

“Should I call her mother?”

“Why is she still here?”

Yep, time to go.

Making friends became my job. Getting food and shelter was how I got paid. When you aren’t old enough to work, you become very resourceful. As soon as I was of legal working age, I held down a job and went to school. Working was never a problem for me. I was an Iowa farm girl. I knew how to work. I took any job I could get—mostly fast food or as a waitress. It was quick money, I had somewhere to eat, and I was warm for my whole shift.

There were times where there just wasn’t a friend to be made. I would sleep anywhere and everywhere I could find. There was one night in particular that’s burned into my memory.

It was right in the middle of a harsh Midwest winter, and it was frigid outside. I had no coat. I just had this basketball sweatshirt with my name on the back of it. Man, I loved that sweatshirt so much. I had bought it with the money I earned de-tasseling corn for a local farmer a few summers back. Something about that sweatshirt made me feel normal—like I was just this kid on a basketball team who had a great life and was not a homeless beggar. That cold, winter night I walked up and down the streets of Council Bluffs, Iowa, not sure what to do. I remembered that one of the friends I’d stayed with had recently moved. I wondered if the house was still vacant. In complete desperation, I ran to the house and found that it hadn’t been rented yet. I went to the back, scaled the house, popped open the window and crawled inside. To my despair, the heat was turned off. It was still so cold. I looked around for anything that had been left behind to cover myself up with. Nothing remained, so I found a carpeted room in the middle of the home and laid down. I rolled up in a ball and shoved my knees as far up my sweatshirt as I could. I put my hands inside the sleeves in an attempt to warm them to any degree. I sat in the dark and cried.

I felt so alone in the world. My hands hurt. My stomach was so hungry. The weight of my situation was so heavy. As I sobbed that night, I could see my breath in the dark, another painful reminder of how cold it was even inside the house. Exhaustion set in. I could feel my body start to succumb to how tired it was.
My last thoughts that night were wondering if I would freeze to death. If this spot in the carpet would be my final resting place. Would this be the way that I died? I wondered if there would be a funeral.  I couldn’t think of anyone who would come. How would they even know who I was if no one was looking for me? I was afraid to go to sleep, not certain that I was going to wake up. I was just so tired.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of someone entering the back door. I was startled and shot up like a rabbit. I heard them talking. It was the landlord showing the house. They saw me, and I ran out the front door in shame. Shame that they saw my need. Shame that they knew. Shame that I had broken into his home because I had nowhere to go. I ran for three blocks before I stopped. That adrenaline was the first warmth I had felt in a long time. The tears came back.

At the time, I didn’t even know I was pregnant with my first child. Being homeless was becoming very inconvenient. Things that people don’t realize:

You can have a baby at 16, but you can’t sign a lease. You can’t buy a car. You can’t turn on your utilities. You can get welfare, but technically I made too much money. In time, I made enough money to support myself to some degree, but none of it mattered because I wasn’t legal. I found a few friends that let me stay here and there, but there was no stability. Everything relied on me never being underfoot and always perfect. I always tried to disappear or remain in the room of the friend I was staying with. I did this somewhat in hopes that they would forget I was there, and I’d get to stay longer. My survival was completely based on the generosity of others creating space for me in their life. At seventeen, hoping for a miracle, I reunited with my child’s father and found myself pregnant again. Upon this news, my boyfriend left us for his full-ride scholarship.

I had no choice anymore. I had to keep Anthony safe. He would not survive freezing temperatures.  I went to a homeless shelter which broke the rules and let me stay there. I can’t tell you how humbling it was to walk through those doors with one hand on my pregnant belly and the other holding the hand of my one-year-old—especially knowing that this was all I had for them, and it wasn’t even mine to give.
I would stay in this homeless shelter until the day I turned 18.

In the homeless community there are two subcultures. There are vagrants, and there are homeless.

Vagrants are those who have accepted homelessness as their way of life. They come to shelters for a meal and a bed. They have no interest in rehabilitation or getting off the streets. Something in their way of thinking shifted in life. Homelessness grants them anonymity. They are able to escape expectations, responsibilities, and heartbreak. In my experience, most have some mental illness. They seek refuge in friends who need that escape, too. A high percentage of them are riddled with addiction because that’s the way they truly get to “disappear.” When the generosity of others wains or the drugs run out, they aren’t above committing crimes or hurting you to steal what you’ve got.

The homeless are the rest of us. I spent four years in that world, and I can tell you firsthand who these people are. They are people who were in similar situations to mine, either experiencing teen pregnancy or escaping abuse at home. Some were battered women who took their kids and ran. Some had lost jobs, and for others, medical bills were the cause of their financial demise. Some were people that had been shunned by the world for one reason or another and had just shut down. Back in my time, there were a lot of LGTBQ people or girls who had gotten pregnant and had been kicked out of their homes for disappointing their families. They had nowhere to go.

We were all ashamed to be there. Deep shame. The kind that makes your soul quake.  At first, we all just tried to stay in our rooms. It was easier to not have to look people in the eye. During meal and chore times, we were forced to interact. Sometimes the thought of having to face people made me really not hungry. I only went into the kitchen because my baby needed to eat.

One evening during another awkward meal at the dinner table, I got brave and asked the person sitting next to me, “So what are you in for?” The whole table laughed, and we all started to open up about what had gotten us there—the roads we had traveled. Every single one of us wanted a chance to say that we were more than just our circumstances. It helped with the shame. When people came into volunteer, it made us all uncomfortable in a sense. We scattered like roaches. We didn’t want to be seen or treated as less. Some of that stemmed from how we viewed ourselves, being in one of the weakest moment of our lives. When we had chores that brought us face to face with staff or volunteers, we were quick to tell our stories. We didn’t want to be lumped in with vagrants. We didn’t put ourselves above the vagrant population, but it was vital to our long-term survival for those around us to know that WE WANTED OUT! We didn’t want to be here. We needed people to stop judging us long enough to see that. No one could judge us as critically as we judged ourselves. We, too, wanted so desperately to hold our heads high and do well for ourselves. Our chances at that point relied solely on people’s willingness to see beyond our circumstances. We needed someone willing to open a few doors for us—doors we couldn’t open for ourselves, despite our best efforts.

I signed the lease for my first apartment on my 18th birthday. I walked through that door with pride. I owned nothing but the two towels assigned to me by the homeless shelter, along with three children’s books given to me that I read to Anthony every night. I bet the people who donated those books had no idea how much I’d come to treasure them. They were three of the five things that I owned. My apartment wasn’t much by the world’s view, but those were the most beautiful four walls I had ever seen. They were my four walls.

I wish I had the time and space to tell you the whole story, because the first 20 years were absolute hell and this post makes it look like Candyland. It got so much worse. I only give you this rare and very private view of my life because I want people to see that
struggle…has a face. It’s my face.

For months I have watched cities throughout Utah consistently reject bringing homeless resource centers into their communities. This week it happened in my own home town of Draper, Utah. A proposal to house a resource center for women and children was brutally rejected, no questions asked. As leaders tried to calm the angry mob and address concerns, they were booed or yelled at. Threats and insults were flying everywhere. I can’t tell you how much it broke my heart. I don’t think my community realized they were rejecting one of their own. 20 years ago, that was me.

Draper’s response was no different than any other proposed hosting city. Every meeting has had the same result, each proposed site being shot down with the same vigor. Rooms filled with anger, resentment and awful words spoken. This happens in cities all throughout our nation whenever the subject of homelessness comes up.

The heart of the message is always the same: “We don’t want you.”

I can’t help but feel the sting of that sentiment. I can guarantee that for some of the people walking the halls of those homeless shelters, they’ve heard those words before…and it’s part of what landed them there.

There is also a very important part of the story that you aren’t hearing—the end.

After struggle… comes triumph. I normally wouldn’t give my resume (I’m not about that life), but I think it’s imperative in this instance because people need to understand that someone’s beginning does not determine their ending.

I went on to have a beautiful life. I worked HARD. I fought my way OUT of poverty. I worked multiple jobs and never turned my nose up at an opportunity to further myself.  All of those desperate times shaped my character in ways you can’t even imagine. It gave me the grit I needed to stare down the obstacles in my life, including myself. People’s willingness to see my potential—rather than my circumstances—gave me a chance to move on and to do beautiful things. I outworked everyone, because I wanted a good life.

I spent a long career as a director at a local hospital, where I specialized in addiction recovery, motivational workshops, marketing and strategic planning, clinical care, and sensitivity training. I was the first person in the State of Utah to achieve several National Awards for Excellence. I served as a consultant for several hospitals throughout the Intermountain West. In 2009, I walked away from my six-figure salary to stay home with my (Surprise!) twins.

For several years now, I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to humanitarian service every month—thousands of hours per year. I spend time investing in communities around the globe. I sit with the broken. All day, every day… I walk people out of the dark. Some of the time is spent in mentorship programs for young single mothers. Some of it is spent at the women’s prison, or juvenile detention centers. I’ve also worked with bereavement groups.  I’ve held dead babies in my arms while mothers wept from their unspeakable loss. Often times it’s in a church. I work with men, women, and youth around the world, counseling them through abuse, addiction, marriage, suicide, grief, loss, LGBTQ issues, and a host of other heartbreaking circumstances. I love my life and I don’t make a dime, although I have been able to help raise money for others in need. In fact, sharing a tiny bit of my story helped to earn the American Red Cross 1.2 million dollars.

I have been happily married to an incredible man for 20 years this summer. We have eight well-educated, nurtured and loving children that go out to serve with us. That is ten people serving communities. And the generations that follow them will, too.

My son Anthony… he’s currently in the Junior Core at the Marriot School of Business, one of the top business schools in the country,  highly focused on integrity in business. His education follows two years of service in South Africa, where he had the chance to lift up and offer aid to some of the world’s most humble and impoverished people. My next oldest son, Andrew, has just sent in the paperwork to serve for two years as well. Upon returning, his plan is to attend medical school. My other children are too young to know their futures, but I know they will serve their communities well because it’s modeled at home.

My point is that we have to look at the return investment. I am confident in saying that it worked out for those who invested in a tiny homeless girl in the Midwest. We won’t always see the ending, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a beautiful one.

We have got to recognize what Charity is and what it isn’t. Charity is not going down to the homeless shelter on Thanksgiving and serving dinner, then snapping a picture for Instagram. Charity is not being willing to help those in need, as long as they stay out of our communities. That’s the worldly and human need for a social pecking order, with the elite always remaining on top.
We might as well be saying, “I am fine helping you, but know your place. The only way you are welcome in my community is if you can afford to buy your own ticket.”

Can we truly call that the pure love of Christ?  Christ entered the world homeless, and was of humble means throughout his life. Yet his contributions are quite literally our saving grace.  I think his view on this subject was pretty clear:

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not…
Inasmuch as ye have done
 it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Good people of the world, I challenge us to search our consciences—to channel our Christian hearts. Good deeds are not done by walking into a church. They are done when you walk outside of that church and help others.

We have got to change this “No Room in the Inn” mentality. There’s room if we make room. True charity is sacrifice. True charity is giving to the point that it hurts a little bit, or sometimes an awful lot. That’s the very essence of Christianity: loving sacrifice. It’s what shapes our character and defines our hearts. I beg of our communities to share in the sacred responsibility to serve our most needy.

Stephen Colbert said it best:

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

 

Dawn L. Armstrong is a humanitarian, speaker, blogger, and lover of all people. Her autobiography, “A New Dawn”, highlights the struggle to break the chains of abuse, neglect, and poverty. In it she provides insight on how to heal from the wounds of this world, and go on to have an extraordinary life. Look for it in book stores later this year.

 

 


 

 

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65 comments

  1. Well, I’ve loved you from the minute I learned of your story. And the more I understand, the more I love you. Thank you for sharing this. I want to understand even better, so I can take better action and have a more humble heart.
    xo
    Emily Ruth

  2. I am sad that u have gone though such difficult times in your life most of which i will never fully comprehend but i want you to know you are a shining light and bring hope to those that have none. Love u so much!

  3. All I can say is, I did’t know what I didn’t know. I think I am a charitable person, but not in the way you described. And I’ve never heard someone’s story of homelessness. Iv considered fostering children, but know it will be hard, challenging, and admitably inconvenient because I’m comfortable in where I am in life. You’ve really opened my eyes to truly making a difference.

  4. This is SO eye-opening. My Dad has once said that we are all so delicate..so fragile. We are all walking glass statues that could easily be broken. We all have obstacles the the natural eye can see. Your story is so passionate and full of eager to help us truly see the bigger picture. My thoughts are being redirected to a better understanding. Thankyou.

  5. Thank-you for sharing your Story! There are many out there that have been in similar type of situations. I think you hit nail on the head when you talk about the shame.

  6. Thank you.

  7. This is amazing! I ranted a little the other day on social media about the “not our neighborhood” signs everywhere. I too had a rough go of things & have been to the shelter & the works.

    Thank you for speaking out. There is a severe stigma that has to be released, then the love can become present & the healing can happen.

  8. I’m so glad you shared this! My first thought when I heard that Draper had denied a homeless shelter in their town was, “Have you even been to one?” I had the opportunity to visit the Food and Care Coalition in Provo last year for a class, and we performed songs throughout their dinner time. It was an AMAZING experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world! It was very humbling and I wish I had more time and a car to do it more often. But I don’t, so I settle with volunteering at a local elementary school after school. I understand why people are scared, but at the same time, there are so many wonderful beings to meet who just need help getting on their feet. Thank you for sharing, Dawn. <3

  9. Wonderful words, my husband and I were in the same mission in South Africa. We didn’t serve near him, but we heard wonderful things about him. You are a good example to us, and it makes me rethink things.

  10. I left home a few months after turning 17 and was accepted into the home of a family. I will be forever grateful for their generosity and sacrifice, because without them I would’ve been in the same situation. It’s very, very difficult to feel equal to those who aren’t dependent on the kindness of others. I still have a terrible fear that if I don’t keep the people around me happy, I’ll somehow lose everything I’ve gotten. I feel weighted with the burden of doing something important with my life because I don’t want to disappoint the people who have invested in me. It’s a long and hard road to get over the past and accept yourself for who you are, to believe in yourself when not many ever have. My dream is to one day be the one to shine a light for others.

  11. From the first moment I met you I was in awe of you and the more I learn the more in awe I become. I love your ability to share your story and to inspire people to be better without shaming people. You’ve got a heart of gold and I’m so thankful to know you and to see the good you do. Thank you for helping me want to be better each and every day.
    XOXO
    Jenn

  12. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Understanding is key to connecting and truly helping.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing more of your story. If there are specific ways that people like me can help, a post about opportunities (with links or something) would be a wonderful thing.

  14. I am so proud of you for your willingness to bring this problem to everyone’s attention and hopefully bringing this issue closer to our 💓 as GOOD CHRISTIAN’S we should be more receptive to helping those in our neighborhood and invite the opportunity to do so. Love Dawn.

  15. What an incredible story of perseverance and never giving up..

  16. Soooo much ❤❤❤❤❤

  17. My heart has been touched. You have moved me to action! Thank you! Big Hugs Cindy Geilmann

  18. I grew up in Granger, Ut – before it became West Valley City. It was a beautiful, quiet, peaceful place. It had a lot of professional people who lived there while I was growing up in the 50s and 60s – pharamacists, teachers, dentists, doctors. The kind who now live in Draper. It has changed a lot. I lived there until about 7 years ago, when my husband and I “retired” to his hometown of Springville, Ut. Springville reminds me a lot of how Granger/West Valley used to be. I served as my ward Relief Society president for the last 2 1/2 years that we were there. I visited “County Housing” homes, homes for the “mentally ill” homeless population, Senior citizen complexes, refugee homes, “drug houses,” where my Bishop told me to “take your husband with you.” I am again serving as the Relief Society president in my ward in Springville. We have a few apartments that are “subsidized,” though not as many as in West Valley. My eyes continue to be opened to the plight of the poor, whether they are that way because of bad choices, or bad circumstances beyond their control, or a combination of both. One of the women I met told me I’m “the most non-judgemental” person she has ever met. I hope I can live up to that. When I heard of the Mayor of Draper’s offer to put the shelter there, I thought he must be a good, generous man. I was disappointed in the citizens of Draper. A few years back, the LDS church wanted to build a DI store there. The people didn’t want it on the east side of the freeway because of the kind of people who would work and shop there. Apparently that attitude has not changed. I hope that I can overcome my harsh feelings towards those people. I would not want them for my neighbors. Thank you for your blog. It makes me want to serve the poor and needy better.

  19. Dawn I loved your story of courage and hope. Currently my husband and I are helping a young lady from Italy – who has suffered a similar situation of much abuse, homelessness, and rejection. She has four girls – all under the age of 9 – though her older three are in legal guardianship with relatives – she had her oldest at 16 and the youngest at 24. We are trying to help her and her 7 month old live a good life. It has not been an easy task, and sadly, we have had many people ask us ‘why are we doing this and causing such burden on our family?’ Yes, it has been difficult, but we know it is not right to turn them away. She is in desperate need of love and support – to show her the way to live a better life than what she had before. Again, thank you for your story of courage and hope!

  20. Thanks for this. After reading this, I decided to start giving regularly to our local Homeless shelter, which is just about a mile from our house. I just can’t get the Savior’s words out of my mind, and I have to do something to help.

  21. I am tired of being touched by stories like this and then doing so little to make a difference….what can I do to help and how can I have my children help?

  22. God bless you for telling your story. I would add that the positive return on the investment is merely a happy consequence. The giving and helping ought to be simply because they have needs that we can meet.

  23. God bless you for telling your story. It is a shining example of the WHO and WHY of giving. I would like to add that the return on the investment is a happy consequence–glorious even–but the giving and helping should be based simply on the fact that they have needs we can meet. It pains me that there are communities who don’t want to get their hands dirty with “that kind” of people.

  24. I want to provide meaningful help. I do not want to sit idle. Whom may I contact?

    1. justserve.org

  25. I first glimpsed your life story through the Meet the Mormons movie and was so happy to discover that you were able to overcome a truly heartbreaking situation and find love, stability, and lasting happiness. Thank you for sharing your story. Those of us who have led relatively charmed lives should appreciate the love, guidance, and resources that we have been given, while reaching out to those who have been less fortunate. When I serve meals at the local homeless resource center, I try to help the patrons hope for a brighter future.

  26. the only people that will be accountable for your sad life is your parents ..if they did a crap job then they will account to Jesus..noone else..but since you had to grovel your way up and know the sweet love of Jesus then thats awesome…but yes whole world needs to stop being stark selfish and help needy..grrr…but its ok thats why we get cyclones to give us all the opportunity to help each other..lol..

  27. in saying that most parents do a brilliant job..not saying they dont but yours in your situation seem lost and beaten senseless …sorry you had to witness all that but break cycle get in with good guys..and giving your baby the best..in life..

  28. When i read this it brought back many memories.i to am a survivor of many issues and still feel like i live in a dream world today. I have broken the chain but still now and then the fear comes back. Thank you look forward to reading your book

  29. Dawn i am humbled by your story and i know you and Craig are great people but this is a whole nuther level!
    I am very proud and respectful of you and your willingness to step outside the group and demand justice for our communities most vulnerable. I help when i can but not enough! Thank you for your encouraging words and may the lord God bless you and your family!

  30. There was mention of a book. Where can one purchase this book? I must have it.

    Dawn, THANK YOU for sharing this story. I shouldn’t have read it at work … but I did, and now I’m blubbering. That’s okay … anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty much a blithering well of tears over stuff like this. 🙂

  31. You go girl!! What an incredible story. You are a strong woman and your children are so blessed to have such an example of strength to grow up under. Thank you for your reminder that we can all do so much more.

  32. Thank you for your story. I have felt so angry and sad at the way Salt Lake County people have acted since the news came in November. I was in the process of interviewing for a job at the Road Home working with the Women when the news came. Unfortunately, there couldn’t be a job offer because the Road Home was closing. I was so disappointed because I wanted to help so badly and maybe change someones life. I have had nothing but disgust for they way people have handled this. We all need a safe place to be, why should we treat anyone else badly because they have different circumstances?! I hope this reaches more people and can change some hearts.

  33. Inspiring, and a call to action! 🙂

  34. Aren’t we all beggars before the Lord? What are we without His infinite mercy and grace? Have we received His image in our countenance? Who will be here to receive the Lord when He returns? Do we truly know Him and follow Him? Who shall stand blameless on judgment day? Who magnifies his/her calling by proving himself/herself true through the refining process we call life? There’s awakening at the dawn break after a night in Gethsamane.

  35. You are one beautiful daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who knows you by name. May your story be a motivation for many to come to know the meaning of Savior’s life and message

  36. Don’t judge the people of Utah too harshly. Most of them still remember a sweet LDS woman who extended charity and an opportunity to work to a homeless man who took more–her young and innocent daughter named Elizabeth Smart.

    1. This article wasn’t about judging anyone, only enlightening some to a world they don’t understand or haven’t been privy to. I don’t think it’s wrong to have concerns as a community. My hope is that the communities will come to the table with their concerns and also their ideas. To be willing to discuss and help find solutions that protect both the communities themselves and the homeless. Elizabeth Smart is a warrior and a hero in my eyes. I believe she too -even given all that she has been through- would see the plight of this article. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

    2. No.

      I don’t want to sound crass or heartless, and I assume you will think me so, but, statistically speaking, your family is no safer when you accept a neighbor, relative, or business associate into the home than a homeless person. Bad things do happen in this world, no matter how hard we try to protect our own.

      Reaching out to help is the best way, in the end, to protect yourself and your family. It’s no guarantee, but there is no better way.

      That’s a bit part of the reason we need Jesus, to help when the best we can do isn’t good enough. And he gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan.

      1. OH I don’t think you sound crass or heartless at all. I think you sound BRILLIANT! There is no better way to protect our families that to invest in its communities! Thanks for your comment!

  37. You know that we adore you, Dawn. What a blessing it has been for Maurine and me to get to know you and your family better and interact with you now and again. Blessings to you always–love you.

  38. When Draper shot down the homeless shelter, a thought came to me. There is a piece of property that is next to the Trax parking lot on 11400 S. and 300 E. in Sandy. I think they were holding on to this property to expand the parking lot if they needed to. I think this would be an awesome spot for a shelter. It would be great for women to have access to transportation to help them get to and from work. It would open up a broad source of transportation resources for them. I don’t know what the red tape would be with this property but if it was possible to work it out it would be an awesome location. We need to put our heads together to help those around us.

    1. That is such a good idea! I will bring that to the Mayors attention! See what happens when brilliant community members share their ideas! I love that! Thank you so much.

  39. The people of Draper who are embarrassed by the protesters really need to step it up and reach out their arms. We should be including them in our lives, not rejecting. I’m a Sandy resident, but I’d love to help.

  40. What an awesome woman you have become. Your life story has opened my eyes and I hope I can be humble and
    do the things that our heavenly father would want me to do. Thank you and God Bless You.

  41. Helping others always comes back in a positive way. Sometimes that way is direct and positive; sometimes it’s a bit convoluted, but still positive. The only times I have felt regret is when I had a chance to help someone and I let other things get in the way.

  42. I am sending this to the politicians. This is a serious issue and making the division between Homelessness and Vagrants is VERY important.

    Thank YOU for rising above the severe trials of your life and the joy you have brought to many others!

  43. I am sending this to the politicians. This is a serious issue and making the division between Homelessness and Vagrants is VERY important.

    Thank YOU for rising above the severe trials of your life and the joy you have brought to many others!

  44. I don’t judge the people of Draper harshly for their current attitude of not wanting a homeless shelter built in their neighborhood. Especially when they can glance down the road to the north and see the “wicked” city that Salt Lake City has indeed become (which was prophesied by Heber J. Kimball). The NIMBY effect comes about because of many and varied reasons. It doesn’t mean that people don’t care about helping the poor/homeless, but can mean they don’t wish to be strongarmed (by government) into doing so OR that they themselves, if given opportunity, can come up with ways they can help. I don’t believe it helps to shame people for their positions, but rather to give them freedom to express themselves. Which is what the city of Draper initially forgot to do.

    1. It’s never my intention to shame. Shaming people only builds resentment, it doesn’t change point of view. My plea is to at least have the discussion, and be kind when we do. I believe in constructive dialogue and good people. I know we have both in Draper. Thanks for your comment friend! 😉

  45. Thank you so much, Dawn for sharing your story!

  46. Your experiences earned you a powerful moral authority and authenticity. Thank you for sharing some raw realities of your experience to help me feel love and compassion. It inspired profound introspection and reflection.

    1. Wow. I am so grateful for your message. The thing that I am so proud of right now, is how many men are stepping forward – saying exactly what you are. Your voice, your willingness to self reflect …it shows how good to the core you truly are. The most beautiful part, is you granted yourself room to feel, something we as a society rarely let men do. Yet we are constantly asking for you to be sensitive and giving while never losing your “man card.” I love and appreciate good men to a degree that most don’t understand. My life showed me to appreciate so many things. Good men being at the top of the list. So thank you, good man for being who you are. You add so much to the world, and I am grateful that you’re in it!

  47. Thank you for helping me look at things that I don’t like to see about myself. My goal is to be a christian, but I can’t achieve that if I don’t love my neighbor, including the one that doesn’t have a home. There is a lot of “food for thought” in your blog and I haven’t learned to appreciate its taste, nor have I fully recognized that it has spiritual nutritional value for me. Thank you for helping me toward the journey that my spirit knoweth but my flesh doesn’t want to suffer. I need to go now because staying where I am won’t get me Home.

    1. Wow. I am so grateful for your message. I hate to sound like a broken record here, but the thing that I am so proud of right now, is how many men are stepping forward – saying exactly what you are. Your voice, your willingness to self reflect …it shows how good to the core you truly are. The most beautiful part, is you granted yourself room to feel, something we as a society rarely let men do. Yet we are constantly asking for you to be sensitive and giving while never losing your “man card.” I love and appreciate good men to a degree that most don’t understand. My life showed me to appreciate so many things. Good men being at the top of the list. So thank you, good man for being who you are. You add so much to the world, and I am grateful that you’re in it!

  48. Thank you for sharing.. I was foster cared and homeless as a teen and many forms of abuse. Reside now at a permanent resident for all sexes Coddington place. Been thru so much and barely hanging in. There is not enough support for homeless or battered or more. Your story was inspirational.

  49. I love this so much. I’m actually moving into your ward in a few months. I visited it 2 months ago and you shared your testimony and mentioned your homelessness. Thank you for sharing your story. I still live in Nevada, but when I heard how the Draper community responded to the homeless shelter proposal it broke my heart. We teach our children about the story of the Good Samaritan, but when someone who actually needs us is knocking on our door, do we remember that story? Or do we forget it because it messes with our lifestyle? Your story is beautiful and I look forward to getting to know you when I join the ward in July.

  50. I truly loved every word you wrote and feel I have met a kindred spirit. I work with some pretty amazing families at Palmer Court. I am inspired by the resilience of the beautiful kids I have the honor to work with daily. Boy would I love to get together with you and discuss some big needs that I long to address but money/funding seem to get in the way. I would be so honored if I could sit down with you to brainstorm ways to find funding for an ongoing parenting class for Palmer Court. I would love to tell you about some of the success we have had serving the homeless families here.

    1. I would love that! Please send me a message with your contact information! I’m thrilled to sit down with you. <3

      1. Oh gosh. So I do not know how to send you a private message so I hope you receive this ok. kelly.rakuita@utahca.org
        If you email me I will email you my cell phone number. Thank you!

  51. Thanks, Dawn, for a wonderful, honest piece on the realities of being homeless. I especially appreciate your confronting of the awful behavior of Utahns in towns like Draper who shouted down speakers & couldn’t seem to find a Christian voice in their community. Not only was their behavior evil, it was a terrible embarrassment to SLC, Utah & our church. Keep up the good work. Your voice is greatly needed.

  52. wow! you are the lady from the movie. I want to read your book.

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