Our shelter lies in the remote northeast corner of the USA – amidst more than 6,000 square miles of forest, fields and small towns. We often experience winter weather for months.
One of our most moving stories is about a petite woman from Hong Kong. We’ll call her Grace – not her real name. She moved to Maine with her new husband and a son from a previous marriage. She didn’t speak much English and had no idea how cold, isolated and afraid she would become. In a short time, her husband became increasingly aggressive – both physically and sexually. He verbally battered both Grace and her son.
Grace desperately wanted to get away from her husband, so she got a job washing dishes in a Chinese restaurant. There, she found out about Hope & Justice Project. She called, and we helped her coordinate an escape plan to a shelter about 60 miles away. It just wasn’t safe for her to be in the same town.
Advocates met with her daily to help create a new life for Grace and her son. Much of time, we used a translating device to understand them. We even learned a little Chinese.
She received government assistance with housing, healthcare and food, but she longed to work and earn her own way.
She knew she must learn English, so she enrolled at the University of Maine Outreach Center and spent countless hours writing, speaking and reading English. We saw such joy on her face when she would read a children’s book or write a journal entry!
Grace and her son lived at our shelter for four months until housing was available. Then, we drove her to the grocery store and helped with daily errands and appointments. Just little things we take for granted when we have our own transportation. She was grateful for our help but wanted independence. So she saved her money to buy two bicycles. With these new treasures, Grace and her son would come and go without relying on Hope & Justice staff.
After a year, Grace chose to move to the West Coast. There, she enjoys a cultural community of people within her ethnicity, warm weather, public transportation and fresh vegetables all year long! We still hear from Grace. She now has her driver’s license and a good job at an airport. Her son is now in college with a 4.0 GPA.
We’re so proud of Grace and her son. I love getting to help women just like her every day.