Barbara’s Story

Stories from the DEG

I was born and raised in Fresno, CA.  My dad was Irish and my mom Italian.  I have two brothers and two sisters.  My dad used to be a security guard and my mom was a stay-at-home housewife.  When I was young, my dad would make us stay home from school to work in the yard, so we missed a lot of it.  At the age of eight, my dad molested me, and this continued for a few years.  When I was a little bit older, I was molested by a friend of the family.  Later, I was molested by our next door neighbor.

After I graduated from high school, I worked at the Holiday Inn by the airport as a maid, where I met my future husband through his cousin who worked with me there.  My husband had a lot of health problems and died on June 15, 2011 of lung cancer.  His brother, who we had been renting from, threw me out of the house several months later.  I didn’t have anywhere else to go.  My own family didn’t want to help me, so my good friend took me in for a while; I stayed in a tent in her backyard, but when her landlord found out, I had to leave.

I was on the streets for a year.  This was really hard on me.  I was by myself and didn’t have any protection.  People would wake me up in the middle of the night and ask if I knew anyone who sold drugs.  I told them, “no,” and asked them to leave me alone.  When I told my friend about this, she had her son check up on me from time to time.  I went to her house once a week to take a shower and have a nice home cooked meal, and sometimes I spent the night.  Occasionally, people on the streets would buy me a soda or a sandwich anything, so I’d have something to eat.  Sometimes they would give me a few dollars; it was really nice of them.

One morning, I was walking with all my stuff and Nancy Waidtlow came by and told me about the Dakota EcoGarden.  My friend’s son took me there and I liked it; I’ve been living there ever since.  I started seeing a therapist for grieving over the loss of my husband four and a half years ago.  Therapy has helped me so much.  I started going to computer classes to learn basic skills.  I really like it because it helps me to grow and to have the courage to do things that I didn’t think I could do before.  I’m so grateful for everyone in my life as they mean the world to me.  I’ve been going to church every Sunday when I can because it helps me get through each and every day.  It’s hard sometimes.  I thank the Lord above for each and every person that has touched my life in so many ways.

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