Jessica, 25, said she’s been “a lost soul” for 10 years, a decade when she was sleeping under bridges and associating with people “who were poisonous to me.”
The mother of three and cancer survivor said she hit rock bottom two years ago when she lost custody of a daughter.
“I lost hope, faith and the will to live,” Jessica said.
She was speaking March 28 to the crowd at the Catholic Charities’ dinner in the ballroom of the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington about how her life turned around when she found God and Catholic Charities’ Bayard House residential program.
Before Catholic Charities honored Dr. Patrick Harker, president of the University of Delaware, with the Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award, Richelle Vible, the agency’s executive director, spoke about people who have been helped by its work.
From a single parent of four in need of heating assistance to children rescued by Charities from an abusive household, Vible offered examples of the agency’s work and quoted a client’s thank-you letter, “God gave us favor when he placed us in front of people like you.”
Vible then introduced Jessica, who described her experience at Bayard House.
“I found my savior, my faith, my God,” said Jessica, whose last name was withheld for privacy reasons. “Bayard House is truly a blessing from God. I love my new family there.”
Bayard House in Wilmington is Catholic Charities’ residential program for pregnant teens and women in need.
Jessica said the program helps her “believe I can accomplish my goals.” During her stay she attended courses at Delaware Technical Community College and now teaches at a child-care center.
“I am in the process of getting my baby girl back,” Jessica said. “I owe everything to my lord God and his angels in disguise at Bayard House.”
Following Jessica’s testimonial to the staff at Bayard House, Bishop Malooly and Vible presented Harker the Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award, named for the late Wilmington priest who directed Catholic Social Services, now Catholic Charities, for 21 years.
Harker, who noted the dinner brought in the highest fundraising total in its history, said he was humbled to be associated with Msgr. Reese.
Harker described a trip he took to Haiti in January as a member of Catholic Relief Services’ board. He noted that CRS offering food and shelter and sanitation in the “midst of tremendous need and chaos” was giving hope to Haitians, two years after the earthquake that devastated the country.
“Hope is the Lord’s greatest gift to us,” he said.
“Catholic Charities people are doing the same thing” in the diocese. In the agency’s work “you see the church in action giving people the dignity that is their God-given right.”
Catholic Charities represents the “Lord’s hands in our community,” Harker said. “They are the ones doing the work. I’m proud to accept the award in their honor.”