From Hopelessness to Helping Others

Judy, Beneficiary of Salvation Army transitional housing
by Linda Leigh
Categories: Articles, Blog, Feature, Newswire
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One day, Judy was a successful accountant. The next day, she was in a coma.

“I was volunteering when I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm,” says Judy. “I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to reduce bleeding and pressure. My family was called in to say goodbye.”

Three weeks later, Judy woke up. She couldn’t see due to eye damage, was strapped in a chair so she wouldn’t fall out and was unable to remember the nurses’ names. Life would never be what it was.

“Over time my vision improved but my short-term memory remained a problem,” says Judy. “I returned to work but couldn’t recall anything I’d been taught the day before. I was fired from three jobs and declared bankruptcy.”

Judy moved in with her mother for a couple of years. When her mother’s dementia worsened, the condo was sold to afford nursing home care. 

“For months I couch surfed with friends and family,” says Judy. “When I ran out of couches, I slept in my mother’s car. Nothing seemed to work out for me. I was suicidal and called 911.”

At the hospital, Judy received help that changed the way she felt and staff secured a shelter bed for her. She was eventually accepted into The Salvation Army’s Transitional Housing Program in Toronto’s downtown core.

“The Salvation Army literally loved me back onto my feet,” says Judy. “Transitional housing gave me a safe, warm room so I didn’t have to worry about where to sleep at night. Friendship gave me a sense of belonging. Encouragement to get involved boosted my self-confidence. As I worked through grieving over what was, The Salvation Army helped me to realize that I still had something to give.”

It’s been 10 years since the incident. Judy’s short-term memory never returned, leaving her unemployable. She became a valued volunteer with The Salvation Army and is living out her passion to help others.

“I want to pay The Salvation Army’s good work forward,” says Judy. “What happened to me wasn’t expected and they helped me back up. That’s what they do. You just have to want it.”