The title "Resident Stories: Julie" in front of the mercy housing logo against a blue background, with a photo of Julie smiling/

Resident Stories – Julie

Julie and her two small children slept on the floor the first night in their new home. After escaping an abusive relationship, they had little more than the clothes on their backs. Julie fought hard to provide a safe home for her kids and was grateful to find stable housing for her family at Mercy Housing. However thankful; this transition was overwhelming, and Julie was sick with fear about the uncertainty that still lay ahead – the hard work was only just beginning.

In 1988, Julie was just 22 years old, barely entering adulthood, when she moved into Mercy Housing’s Decatur Place Apartments in Denver. She was a single mom of two children with a baby on the way and no support system or anyone to rely on. Working at the Denver Post as a customer service representative was good, but the little income she earned didn’t provide the basics she needed to support her kids. Julie was dedicated to making a better life for them and Mercy Housing would offer the support and the solid foundation she needed.

It was during an initial meeting with a Mercy Housing case manager named Dawn, that Julie’s eyes opened to the possibilities of the future. This meeting became a defining moment that set the entire trajectory of Julie’s life.

Julie recalls the conversation vividly – it’s one she will never forget.

“Dawn asked me if money was no issue and children were no issue, what would you do right now with your life? I answered and said I’d like to be a teacher,” said Julie.

Dawn looked at her and without a blink answered, “let’s figure out how to make you a teacher.”

Julie couldn’t see past her struggles and the immediate needs that absorbed her daily efforts. Talking with the case manager, shone new light in Julie’s direction and helped carve a path to move forward.

“That moment changed my life forever! Someone saw more in me than I saw in myself,” said Julie.

Mercy Housing offered Julie a support system she desperately needed. Becoming a resident at Decatur Place meant she was committing to participating in a two-year-long program for single parents. During that time, Julie was required to regularly meet with a case manager and attend three onsite classes a week. The classes ranged from financial planning to child development and would provide Julie with invaluable resources she needed to get her life on track.

Other helping hands reached out to Julie. She recalls a moment when Sister Jean, Sisters of Mercy, helped by offering her donated furniture. With literally nothing but one pan to use for cooking, Julie and her kids had been sleeping on the floor for weeks. This furniture made their new place a home and created a sense of normalcy everyone was craving.

With this opportunity to put her life in forwarding motion, Julie put her heart and soul into everything she did. She became very active in several activities at Decatur Place. Julie was an editor for the Decatur Neighbor (the  resident-led newsletter), she joined the Client Advisory Board, and was also Resident Council President. She accepted each challenge as a step towards the future and a building block to success.

Julie made some very hard decisions to pursue a better life. She quit her job at the Denver Post, applied for federal assistance (welfare), and enrolled as a full-time student at the Community College of Denver. Julie studied English Literature while interning at the Women’s Resource Center. She would eventually graduate with an associate degree and continue at the University of Colorado Denver to study education.

It was hard work and not easy. Julie gave up a lot to create a better life for herself and her children. Through her constant determination, the puzzle pieces began to connect.

As Julie looks back now, over 30 years later, it’s a little easier to reflect on the setbacks she encountered along the way and the moments that felt insurmountable. Life is full of twists and turns, but Julie tries to give herself grace and look towards the positive.

Since her time at Decatur Place, Julie’s confidence has grown with each professional and personal accomplishment. She has had a wonderful career in procurement spanning over 20 years that has afforded her travel experiences around the world. Julie continues to evolve and is currently studying Reiki. With just four classes shy of earning a bachelor’s degree, Julie has added that to her to-do list as well.

Now, instead of being embarrassed or ashamed about using federal assistance, she is proud to say she went from welfare to a six-figure salary.

“None of this – I mean NONE OF THIS – would have been possible without Mercy Housing,” said Julie.