Journey from despair to glorius hope
3 December 2012
“Finally I did go and see the Salvos. They didn’t judge my inability to get it right along the way and they recognised I had been winging it for most of my life and really had no clue how to actually live and not just survive.” – Hailey
Less than six years ago, Hailey, who for more than three years has been the full-time manager of The Salvation Army’s Caloundra Centrepoint Family Store, was a painfully shy volunteer, too timid to even sit at the staff lunch table.
Today, Hailey not only holds a management position but is also finishing a diploma in business management and is planning further study at university.
She believes the skewed thinking and poor self-image that plagued much of her adult life stemmed from a painful past.
“My parents divorced when I was 13 and within a week my mum had moved her boyfriend in. I was soon removed from her care for my own safety,” she explains.
She says some of her foster placements were positive, but she was a bewildered and hurting teen and was moved often.
Other placements were horrendous, she explains, saying: “In one of the homes, the natural kids of that family were providing drugs.
“So,” she says, “I ran away and lived on the streets, feeling much safer. It was just a whirlwind of confusion.”
Looking for love
Looking for the love she craved, Hailey married but the relationship eventually broke down. Hailey says this simply confirmed in her own mind that that she must be unlovable.
And so began the next stage of her journey, as a single parent raising two daughters (one with mild cerebral palsy).
“I generally made a big mess of things,” Hailey says. “I was blessed with good friends, instead of family, so it wasn’t all bad. Still, my finances and self-esteem and confidence were messier than my teenage daughter’s bedroom.”
When she finally admitted to a friend that she simply had no hope at all for the future, he suggested she contact the local Salvos.
“Strange as it was, I still had some pride and fear, so I left it at that for another six months,” Hailey says. “People say you can only go up from there, but I found you can coast along sidewards at rock bottom for as long as pride and fear will allow you.”
When Hailey finally visited the Caloundra Family Store for help with bills, she says: “Patience with me and my buckets full of long-held-in tears were the first things I noticed. So many tears; a lifetime of tears I’d locked up. I think they ran out of boxes of tissues.”
Skills for life
During that time, she was also encouraged to enrol in a life skills course. “That taught me budgeting, I learned the difference between needs and wants – just basics that I’d never learned, plus cooking, hygiene, how to prepare resumes. Thankfully, they also referred me to the beautiful and talented counsellor they have on staff,” Hailey says.
She soon mustered the courage to volunteer in the Family Store. “They were the loveliest, loveliest people, very patient and gentle and accepting,” she says.
“I was more alive and hopeful than I had ever truly been and my daughters thrived.”
Hailey says after a year as a volunteer she successfully applied for a management job. She “absolutely loves” managing the Caloundra store, especially supporting those in need.
“I think everything I’ve been through God has used. Needy customers come in and as soon as you touch their arm they burst into tears,” Hailey says.
“If I hadn’t had the support I received I don’t think that I’d be alive. I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t continue living the way that I had been. I didn’t have any hope.
“I am just so thankful.”