u-turn 25 birthday

Hi, I’m Cathy. I’m a champion on the U-turn phase 3 work-readiness programme. My passion is communication and I’m part of the U-turn communication team. Every week I will be writing a blog post sharing my personal experience on this programme, to give you a window into the experience of being a champion on the U-turn programme.

Sometimes I wish I could walk around with a video of my life before homelessness and mental breakdown. Both robbed me of my confidence. I wish I could tell the world, “This is really who I am…be patient with me while I pick up the pieces of my shattered life.” When going through homelessness, a person can lose their identity. 

One day I showed my online magazine which I’d created while at the night shelter, to one of the U-turn service centre social workers. She spoke to my case worker and mentioned me to the U-turn Communication Department Team. A few months later I joined the team. 

For myself the first day in the office was exciting (and still is). What for other people might look mundane or what they might take for granted was exciting for me…

I was thrilled to have my own space, laptop and email address again. I thanked God for these.

There was a time when I was alone in the office and reading through my responsibilities I cried tears of joy and thanked God for the opportunity He has given me. After so many rejected job applications I was doing what I love.

The Communication and Stewardship team are amazing. They made me feel at home. They never let me feel like I was just a champion. They treated me as if I was a member of staff and there were times that I had to remind them that I was not able to go with them to staff functions. I was given the responsibility of social media content creation. I felt honoured that they had faith in me even though I was a champion.

In the beginning of the year, I was asked to temporarily fill the role of receptionist at the U-turn head office. I felt like a sunflower looking at the sun and flourishing in the midst of my personal circumstances.

I was using my administrative skills and with guidance my writing skills are being nurtured. Slowly the old Cathy is coming back.

During my personal development days we are working through the “Change Project” series, based on a book by Tim Chester. Each champion has had to make a commitment on what they would want to change in their life. I choose to change the negative thoughts I had of myself. With the guidance of what I was being taught in the series I worked specifically on self-doubt. Even though I knew what God through the scriptures says about me, I still doubted. The unsuccessful job applications and business proposals before joining U-turn had made me doubt myself. I questioned my capabilities. 

However, the support and guidance I have been given has helped me regain my sense of self.

As I moved from Growth Stage to Exit Stage, we celebrated with a ceremony. During my speech,  I said  the following about my journey at U-turn:

In Foundation and Growth Stage, I have learned to be patient with myself. There were times where I was impatient with my journey and I had to learn to be present in the moment.

Throughout my U-turn journey, I had to remember that homelessness is not my identity. Through my group sessions, my sessions with Tatum and Latetia, I was reminded of my purpose and my gifts.

I was also reminded that where I am at, will pass and that there is life after homelessness. 

The ceremony was filled with champions, the Communications and Stewardship team and the work-readiness therapy team. After I spoke, the guests shared the memories that they have of me and encouraged me on my journey ahead. I was really encouraged to hear the beautiful things they were sharing.

Slowly God is healing me from the brokenness I have experienced for the past two years. 

Every morning as I enter the U-turn head office reception, I will see an extract of Revelation 22, verse 2  on the wall,  “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Daily the scripture reminds me how God is slowly healing me through the U-turn Communications Department and the work-readiness therapy team. 

In “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan, Christian sees a hand from heaven placing leaves from the tree of life on his wounds that were inflicted by a fierce battle. Slowly his wounds healed. I feel that on my journey that U-turn is the leaves that bring healing to my wounds.

Join me next week as I share some exciting news.