TW: Mention of sexual assault

A place of solitude offers a retreat from the opposing forces and diverse demands of living, an entry into a state of peace and unity. Mind and body can retire from confusion and conflict to a sanctuary of clarity and harmony.” – Anthony Lawlor

For Diane, gardening is her sanctuary and a time where she can focus on herself. In our courtyard at the Rebecca Johnson Apartments, Diane has found harmony through plants and radiates a sense of peace throughout the Deborah’s Place community. Her talents and knowledge of horticulture have not only beautified the building, but have brought her clarity and a safe-space to grow herself.

From a young age, Diane faced many hardships. She found herself in abusive relationships growing up and experienced sexual assault. By the time she was living on her own, she was experiencing a mental health crisis. Because of her paranoia, she couldn’t trust anybody and felt like she couldn’t get help, so she ended up living on the streets.

“When you are sleeping outside you can’t make any plans for your future…I was frequently not in a safe space so I was often unable to create achievable goals.”

– Diane

After three years of living on the streets and couch surfing, she was finally placed at our Rebecca Johnson Apartments. After getting settled in her new apartment, Diane finally started to focus on herself. She was able to pursue what she loves because of her newfound stability.

Over the past year, Diane has accomplished a lot. She addressed her mental health, started environmentalism classes, started a great job with the park district and brought beauty to our courtyard at Deborah’s Place.

Diane wanted to put her healing into the physical space of the courtyard, while giving back to the Deborah’s Place community. By doing so, she helped create a space for everyone to heal. At Deborah’s Place, we have a wonderful statue in our courtyard titled “Woman Unchained,” that represents women breaking the chains of trauma and homelessness. Over the years, our beautiful courtyard foliage started to overtake the statue, and for a time she wasn’t visible anymore. Diane took the initiative to clean up the statue and give it a new look, and in return, she felt like she broke the chains of her own trauma.

“I felt responsible for something kind of precious… getting to work with it made me feel so valid and seen and I had been given a great opportunity.”

– Diane

Diane’s time at Deborah’s Place has given her the opportunity to grow and find her new path in life. One day she hopes to live by the Pacific Ocean.