MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: Friends! Just overnight (since Sunday evening we shared we had raised $225), we have doubled our goal raise of $400. You have contributed $800! We are blown away. That means not only will we be able to feed everyone Williams Chicken but we will also be able to print pictures of Julie and have flowers, as well as ribbons for everyone to wear. We are so honored by your partnership in honoring our sweet friend. Thank you with all of our hearts!
SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE: As of Sunday evening we have raised $225 towards the food. Thank you all so much for your contributions. We are hoping to raise $400 for the food. Any excess will go to having pictures of Julie printed for the service, plus flowers and ribbons for people to wear in her honor. We will keep you updated on our progress!
The first time I met Julie, she cussed me out. Our friend Steve at Luke's Locker had given us a bag of tennis shoes to pass out on the streets. I wouldn't let Julie take a bag full of them, and she got mad. Next thing I knew, she had grabbed the bag of shoes and taken off down the street.
The community was enraged -- that she would walk off with their tennis shoes. So while I felt helpless, they rallied and went to retrieve them. Turns out, Julie had offloaded them for $5. Still, it didn't matter, the community returned with the shoes. It was a day of victory ... for everyone but Julie it seemed.
After that I didn't really like her. To put it bluntly, I wrote her off. Then we told the story of the missing shoes and the community rallying to get them, and someone said the most unusual thing: They didn't read the story as a celebration of community; they were concerned for Julie. Over the next few days and weeks, I reflected on this person's wisdom, and I started to see Julie a person who needed compassion, too. Who says she was too far gone? I started to pray for her, and so did a small group of people who meet monthly to pray over our work.
Julie started to come around. The best part about Julie is that the same feisty part of her that cussed me out is the part of her that, as she was being restored to herself, loved to make me laugh. And it wasn't just me. Julie loved to make people laugh. She couldn't let an opportunity go by without telling some joke, or sneaking up behind someone to try to scare them.
Sometimes when we showed up on the streets, Julie hadn't eaten all day. She'd look at me slyly and just say "Chicken?"
She wanted William's Chicken. Once I obliged I couldn't ever be down there without her asking if we could go.
At some point over the last six months, as Julie became more and more alive, she moved into my heart as a dear friend. She wasn't just some homeless person to me; she was just a person, someone I loved, and who loved me.
This past Sunday night, Julie -- our Julie -- was killed: violently beaten in one of the homeless encampments we frequent. It is not possible to explain the pain we feel. We are still reeling from the news.
When we learned she had been beaten, no one knew for sure if she had lived or died, or where the ambulance had taken her. We spent two days trying to track her down. She was a Jane Doe.
When I started working on the streets of South Dallas with the homeless, this week, losing a friend like this, well, it is something I could never have pictured. Something about this spirited little lady grabbed my heart in a way I did not expect. Of course, we had no idea her days were drawing to a close.
Here is the Meet the Need.
We have a memorial service scheduled for Wednesday morning, and we want to make it really special. We want to order William's Chicken for everyone who comes. This is our "Meet the Need": raising funds to buy William's Chicken for everyone in Julie's honor.
If you want to be a part of this Meet the Need, you can click here to give a tax-deductible gift on our Give page.
Thank you all in advance for your love and support. Please keep the community in your prayers.
A note for Julie:
Julie, I am so thankful you let me into your life. Thank you for calling me friend. Thank you for never letting me leave without telling me, "Elisabeth, I love you." Thank you for taking me to William's Chicken for the first time ever. Thank you for touching my heart in ways I still haven't even processed. You were a light, a joy. I keep looking for you on the streets. I am sure going to miss you.