Childhood acquaintances got married after becoming homeless and reconnecting at the Rescue Mission.
Drew and Dawn Washington, grateful for new life in Jesus, are helping our chaplains bring homeless men closer to God this Easter.
They give back to the Rescue Mission despite mental and physical challenges. Drew volunteers because his parents taught him, “You always help someone in need despite your circumstances.”
Drew found himself in need when he lost everything due to identity theft. After hospitalization for a suicide attempt, he came to the Rescue Mission.
“I was embarrassed. I was angry,” he recalled. “For years, I’ve been helping people to put them in the right direction. I never thought it would be me.”
Drew was given a safe bed, hot meals and clean clothes. In between medical appointments and sobriety support meetings, he updated his resume at our employment center and took to heart what he heard in our Bible studies. “It restored my relationship with God,” he said.
Drew’s life changed further after talking with a young man in the shelter who invited Drew to meet his mother. Drew recognized her as someone he hadn’t seen in more than 20 years. The first time they had met, when Drew was 8 and Dawn was 17, he told his mother he would marry her someday.
Dawn’s son introduced Drew as his “peer advocate,” not a fellow shelter resident. Dawn eventually remembered Drew but didn’t know he also was staying at the Rescue Mission until she became homeless. Being a widow with nowhere to live is scary, Dawn noted. “I didn’t know what to do, where to go, who to trust.”
She decided to come to the place that was helping her son to learn her options. It was here that Dawn ran into Drew again and realized he was in similar circumstances.
Dawn stayed in a local women’s shelter but often ate with Drew at the Rescue Mission. She was encouraged at our chapel meetings as they got to know and help each other. After a month in shelter, Drew and Dawn moved out and continued to rebuild their lives. They were married February 19, 2010.
Before she was homeless, Dawn used to look past homeless people as if they didn’t exist. “When you become homeless yourself, you say, ‘I was wrong,’” she said, knowing now anyone can become homeless given the right circumstances. “I don’t look down upon them anymore.”
That homeless connection has Drew and Dawn coming back to encourage the men served by our spiritual life programs. They set up and participate in our weekly movies and monthly coffeehouses. “I enjoy that,” Dawn said. “If the guys ask me a question, I can give them a woman’s point of view.”
As for her marriage, “I couldn’t have asked for a better man,” she said. “He’s there when I need him and I’m there when he needs me. We have God on our side.”
And she can’t forget, “My son brought us together.”