Somewhere To Belong

Hello my name is Brenda Deckman and I love who I am today. I am proud to be part of the staff here at the Homeless Garden Project. It has changed my life completely.

Almost 20 years ago, I left an abusive relationship and lost my 5-year old son and my home. It was a difficult decision to leave, made when I had no one to turn to. My ex-husband ended up taking it to the extreme and I had no contact with my son for 15 years. Without my son, I didn’t want to do anything. I had no purpose in life.

I was in a really dark place for those 15 years and surrounded myself with toxic people because I didn’t feel worthy. I felt like that’s what I deserved for not being there for my son. All I ever wanted was my son and then one day it happened–I found my son on Facebook! I was able to ask my son to give me a chance so I could get to know him and be a part of his life. And this was the beginning of my Turning Point, because I was so embarrassed when I told my son I was homeless and broke. That was definitely my Breaking Point. It was just not okay anymore to be in a toxic environment.

My first goal was to get a job so I could help my son if he needed it. I had heard about the Homeless Garden Project and decided to apply. I was so desperate for a change. I volunteered at HGP for a couple of weeks. My first day volunteering I felt like I became part of the farm. It ended up being the most rewarding 2 weeks of my life. Every day I showed up to work I gave 110%. I wanted to be the best I could be because I had purpose now and at the end of my two weeks I was offered an interview.

At the end of my first month at HGP, my hard work was rewarded and I became the very first trainee of the month for the Homeless Garden Project! What an honor. I couldn’t wait to tell my son. That was the first time my son told me he was proud of me. That meant so much to me. The next day I went to work, I worked even harder because I was so thankful for what the farm had already done for me. I set two serious goals for myself. I wanted to have a place to live and a car by Christmas. I met my goals and couldn’t believe it! I didn’t have to be boring Brenda anymore. I was blossoming.

I have finally become the woman I’ve always wanted to be. And for the first time in my 44 years of living, I’m happy being me. The independent, self-supporting woman that I had always dreamed of being. Although it was up to me to decide to do something with myself, I must give my thanks to the Homeless Garden Project for giving me a chance to not only have a job but to show my son I can grow and be someone he can be proud of.

I can’t give enough thanks to the Homeless Garden Project. I had nothing, and now I have two jobs, transportation and a place I call home. Even though I have a long-distance relationship with my son, we are still growing closer together. As long as I can remember, I have always been searching for a place that I belong. No matter where I was, it didn’t feel right, I didn’t belong there. The Homeless Garden Project gave me the feeling that I have been looking for all my life–that I actually belong somewhere.

I wrote those words over a year and a half ago and it’s unbelievable to me when I reflect on my words because I still feel those words. Deeply.   I like who I was when I wrote that last year and I’m happy to report that today l love who I’ve become and the growth I continue to make. HGP has taught me to be resilient and adaptable to cope with and stability

I am human though and I do have struggles and challenges but I know longer have to face them alone. My housing situation is in transition and I am looking for a more stable and permanent place to call home. Working two jobs doesn’t leave me much time to look for places. I was getting discouraged about my housing situation when Darrie introduced me to one of our board members Ron Slack. His support has made me more determined than ever and has helped me persevere. Ron has helped me draw up a budget plan so I know what I can afford to pay for rent and he’s able to find answers for my questions

Now I get to experience alumni events in which I play a huge part each month. I remind all our graduates that it’s time to come back to the farm and have our monthly farmily day, and show support for each other. Our alumni circle continues to grow every month, which to me is a huge reflection on HGP and its growth and success.

Being staff now here at the Homeless Garden Project, I definitely see more of the layers that it takes to keep the project sustainable. The most important layer is the foundation since that’s what everything rests on.

I can build myself to be anything I want. As a trainee, I started to transform the way I structured my life. Once my foundation was solid, I started noticing there are so many layers to life and it all starts below the surface.

Reflecting back on my growth I had the thought that life is like an onion with many layers. The more I worked, the more I was able to peel off those damaged layers of my life.

My son is my foundation.

Just like I wanted, I’m able to help my son whenever he needs it. That means everything to me. And in the last year I’ve been able to visit him twice! My dream would have never come true without the Homeless Garden Project

–HGP Graduate and Workshop Assistant, Brenda Deckman