Joi has been an advocate against domestic violence for three years but she didn't choose this line of work; advocacy chose her. Almost five years ago she was brutally beaten with two golf clubs by her ex-boyfriend. The beating was so horrific that he broke every bone in her face, both of her arms, both of her hands, and due to a terrible infection, she lost her left eye. We first heard of Joi’s story in 2012 and felt very strongly about doing all we could to help make a positive impact on her life. The first change we made was getting her a new bed because she was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. To date, we have assisted Joi with eliminating debt, clothing for her family, Christmas for her children, advocacy, guidance, money management coaching, home repairs, and so much more. As a result she is THRIVING! She recently signed the papers to purchase a brand new home and surprisingly Joi is most grateful for the love & mentorship that we have been honored to provide her. In her words, “I've learned to be self-sufficient, strong, and to ask for help when you truly need it.” He may have broken her bones but he didn't break her spirit and we are so proud of her!
Please read this letter from Joi expressing her gratitude:
“I cannot put into words just how much Hands Across the Bay has changed my life! I was looking for someone to talk to who knew what I was going through, because even while working at a Domestic Violence Center and Shelter for many years, I had never come across a severe case like my own. I was searching the internet when I across Audrey's story and a feeling of not being alone came over me!
The day came when I met Audrey for lunch. We talked for hours! That’s when my life changed in so many ways! I had asked Audrey about Hands Across the Bay to see if they could help me! That's when I reached out to Julie.
I expressed my struggles with Hands Across the Bay. I was struggling with furniture. At the moment all I had was a mattress on the floor. Within a week, Hands Across the Bay found a donor, Hudson Furniture. Within a month, I was eating off of a table and not off of the floor.
I was just so grateful that they never judged me and were fast to help me. But their true colors really shined after my half-sister’s kids were placed with me in 2011. I took the kids in due to child abuse, their mother was unable to care for them and the father had passed away.
A year later the kids were placed with me permanently. Hands Across the Bay found out and instantly reached out to me. They sent Christmas presents during the Holidays.
In 2012, I found out about a housing program that could get my family into a bigger house called Florida Home Partnership. I found out I had really bad credit due to being in and out of the hospital from 2009-2011. I didn't know what to do. This credit was weighing us down! Hands Across the Bay jumped in to help! They set me up with a money management professional, who helped me save money, finance an SUV and have now been approved for a bigger home for my myself and my three kids.
They helped me so much not only with things we needed but with my self-esteem and courage! Meeting everyone from Hands Across the Bay has been the greatest thing that's ever happened to my family and me! Especially Audrey & Melissa. Their courage brings me courage. Their drive to want to help, drives me to want to do better things as well! Not just saying that, I really do mean it! They have encouraged me in so many ways that I can’t express! All I could freely do is help others as they have helped me and say Thank you!
Keep touching the hearts of others and never stop wanting to help people ... They need you!”