In a Perfect Place

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When Valerie chose to walk away from a four-year relationship after a domestic dispute and an emotional breakdown that landed her in the hospital, it seemed as if it was the end of all she ever hoped and dreamed.

“It’s heartbreaking when you can’t keep a family together, but I knew it was time to find a better life for my son and me,” said Valerie.

After carrying the responsibility of her boyfriend’s addiction, unfaithfulness and abuse, Valerie lived with the guilt of failure. She not only had nowhere to turn emotionally, but having recently purchased a house with him, she now had nowhere to go.

“By the grace of God, Gracewood was the first place that popped up online when I began searching for shelters for single moms,” said Valerie. “I called immediately as it seemed like the perfect place for my three-year-old son, Paxton, and me.”

That same day, Valerie showed up for a tour of Gracewood and immediately submitted an application.

“Paxton cried after the tour was over because he didn’t want to leave; we immediately felt at home,” said Valerie. “The Gracewood staff even gave Paxton a truck from the playroom.”

Valerie and Paxton moved to Gracewood in October of 2011 and it quickly became a safe place for them to recover financially and experience healing.

“Gracewood helped me grow both mentally and spiritually, allowing me to see that my boyfriend’s addiction and choices were not my fault,” said Valerie. “There’s nothing I could have done to help either him or his daughter.”

Soon after arriving at Gracewood, little Paxton began calling it his “church house,” as it was not only a safe place for him and his mom, but it was the place where they began walking with God and going to church.

“Gracewood changed our lives in so many ways. It gave us hope. It showed us that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Valerie. “Gracewood taught us to have faith in the Lord and that through him we have the strength to overcome anything at anytime.”

Valerie continued to work as a human resources specialist for an oil and gas company, a position she has held for seven years, and began saving to start over.

Through Gracewood, Valerie was able to pay off her car, attorney fees and medical bills as well as save a significant amount of money to put down for a house.

“I never thought I could accomplish everything I’ve accomplished in such a short period of time,” said Valerie. “The things I’ve learned at Gracewood are things I will take with me forever, things I will instill in my son.”

In November of 2012, Valerie was connected with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a non-profit that helps first-time home buyers find houses with the lowest possible interest rates and down payments.

Valerie was approved by NACA and closed on the purchase of her first home this summer. She intends to stay as close to Gracewood as possible in order to remain close to both her church, Bayou City Fellowship, and her Gracewood support system.

"Gracewood has helped me realize that walking away was not the end, but simply the beginning of a new and better chapter of our lives," said Valerie. "Sharing our story of survival has become instrumental in our healing process."