Despite the difficult topics I have written about in the first five days of this project, the truth is that I always have a great day at The Well. I work with wonderfully precious people, much younger than me, who call me Dad.
I remember meeting Junie, then 19, in 2013. She seemed quiet and timid. Indeed Junie had her shy side, and still does, but it soon became clear that there was a lot going on in her 90-pound frame.
Like many we work with, Junie’s mother worked in the sex industry, and was absent from home. She remembers her father being good to her, but he left to start a new family when Junie was 16.
On her own, Junie protected herself with the ways of the street–and a boyfriend. She moved in with a boy, and they were married after she became pregnant. Her husband was irresponsible and abusive, so after a couple of years she fled. When she was 19 a friend introduced Junie to The Well.
What Junie lacked in size she made up for with sharp wit and a sharp tongue. She brought these two untamed talents with her to The Well, and on a few occasions we had to do some correction. One day she and another young woman got into a physical fight and had to be pulled apart. Junie’s small face contains wide eyes that seem to double in size when she is frightened or concerned. Junie was sent to me in the business office to calm down. She sat in a chair staring up at me with silver-dollar-sized pools of tears, so pitiful that it was hard work to keep myself looking serious.
Junie got pregnant again and had to marry again, but thankfully she got a good man, gentle and soft-spoken. Junie now fully trusts Jesus and is praying and waiting for her husband to join her. He does allow her to go to church and has expressed gratitude for our love.
Once Junie began to become stable and grow, her gifts came alive. She has a brilliant mind with managerial talent, and also a playful, disarming sense of humor. She finished high school equivalency, and we invited her to join our team as administrative assistant. Down the road, we expect Junie will start university courses next year.
Because Junie is such a good worker, not only dependable but proactive–willing to point out mistakes and oversights, I like to embarrass her by calling her my boss. I also occasionally remind her how proud that makes me feel.