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Julio Bernarddude


I have been struggling with homelessness since I was twelve, and I am 22 now. The first time I became homeless, it was because one of my mom’s relationships didn’t work out for her. She had moved our family to Mexico when her boyfriend got deported. Shortly after the move, he became abusive. When we moved back to Washington, stepping off the Greyhound in Olympia, we had nowhere to live. We struggled for a long time and had no choice but to live at the Salvation Army in the family shelter program. But eventually my mom got an apartment. Even then, I continued to struggle with being homeless countless times.

 

At the age of fourteen I started dealing with things that got me in trouble with the law. I was put on probation until I turned eighteen. It was difficult staying sober to stay compliant with my probation, so I went on the run. I would use marijuana immediately after being released from juvie and then would have to undergo a urine analysis. The results would come back positive from the lab and two weeks later, I would have a warrant. This was an endless cycle in my life.

I continued to stay on the streets or at friends’ houses, hiding from the Thurston County Police for four years. Eventually I would get caught and each time I was sentenced to the maximum amount of time possible for a probation violation, which is thirty days. Even after I turned eighteen, I had JRA (Juvenile rehabilitation administration) probation to deal with, which lasts until you’re 21, and so the same cycle continued until I was twenty. Once I was off probation, I had to come to terms with the fact that I had missed out on my entire teenage life and was now a homeless young adult.

“Remember that you never
know what someone’s life
has been like, and to never
give up on what
someone can become.”

Homelessness is not fun and is very scary. Until I found Rosie’s Place, the youth shelter ran through Community Youth Services, I had a very hard time trying to survive. It takes weeks to memorize all the meal times downtown and I didn’t have that much time to figure them out before I starved, so I stole food when I was hungry. When I was around other homeless people and on the streets, I picked up drug addictions. I started off using pretty harmless drugs, but in the end, I was using hard drugs that made me feel like I was losing control and were hard to quit. I remember when I was sleeping on the sidewalk begging other users for a shot, and I thought that I would die that way. Luckily, I was able to talk to a case manager at Rosie’s Place and got some sense talked into me.

At some point, I began making better decisions for myself. I stopped using drugs and slept more often, thanks to the nightly shelter program offered by Rosie’s Place. I now use Rosie’s Place daily, and when I have nowhere to go I use the shelter services. Thanks to Rosie’s Place my life is much better, and I get to go to college at South Puget Sound Community College where I plan to get my Applied Associate’s Degree and become a Dental Assistant. Remember that you never know what someone’s life has been like, and to never give up on what someone can become.

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