By Christina Cruz
Tagline Media Group
Got Junk for Jesus is a charity that collects unwanted vehicles throughout Southern Arizona, refurbishes them and provides them to families in need of transportation. We would like to share with you the story of a remarkable organization and the remarkable people they assist.
Denise (not her real name) lost her mom when she was a mere seven years old. She grew up in foster care homes in Las Vegas. Some foster parents are not as family-oriented and loving as we might assume they are. As a result, when Denise learned that she could be declared an adult, she arranged to be “emancipated’ by the courts. This young 15 year old girl, in a spirit of hope and survival, freed herself from the far too often flawed foster care system.
Denise was easy prey, at her tender age, to the predators in the adult world. She tried to live with friends and stay safe, but soon an older man who promised security, became her “boyfriend.” Soon enough, her “boyfriend” turned into her boss. It turns out that he was really a pimp. Denise was broke, on her own, without anyone or anything except her “boyfriend.” In that same spirit of survival, she figured she really had no choices left for survival, so she went to “work” for him.
Due to her youth and inexperience Denise was naively pleased with her success and the rewards of her hard work. She went from having nothing to being able to buy anything and everything she wanted. She prostituted for about seven years, and during that time she was arrested over and over again. It got to a point where the police knew her by name, as did the casinos she frequented, which started to bar her from their premises.
During this time, with only the guidance of her “boyfriend” upon which to rely, Denis gave birth to two children. However, her core values made her realize that she did not want to raise her kids in this environment. Realizing she’d be facing years of jail time if her life went on like this, Denise started thinking to herself that there must be a better life…a better way.
During her “working” days, Denise was looking for a way out. A friend told her about an organization called Hookers for Jesus (hookersforjesus.net). There, she says, she learned that with God in her life, she wouldn’t need a pimp to protect her, or a “man” to take care of her. Denise, and other women in her position, say that the pimps brainwash them into thinking they can’t make it without them, but Hookers for Jesus showed them that God could be their “Man” – and their savior.
Denise found another Way, she found God. From that point on, she saw another way to live life. That included changing her life completely. She needed to leave Las Vegas, and her old friends. Denise had nowhere to go to get a fresh start, and no way to get there. She knew that she would have to keep “working” to raise enough money to get out of town.
The father of her children, who was also her pimp had a strong hold on her and was not inclined to let go.
One day, her pimp was arrested. Denise saw her opportunity to save her children. So, while he was in jail Denise took his car keys and left everything behind.
Denise ended up in Tucson even though that was not her plan. She was trying to make it somewhere else but the car broke down in Tucson, so she checked into a women’s shelter and ended up excelling in the shelter’s program. Denise became involved with Arizona’s Department of Economic Security, and recently, through one of their programs, obtained her GED. A job soon followed, at a local call center (where she’s been working for the last six months), and she’s almost got enough money saved to get her own apartment.
A representative from Got Junk for Jesus said, “Yeah, we’re going to give her a car, and my friend, along with his family, are going to provide Denise and her three little ones with some clothes and presents for Christmas!”
Denise is doing really well these days. She’s such a smart girl, who at the age of 24, is well kept and well spoken. No one would guess that she had anything less than a wonderful childhood. She accepts full responsibility for the decisions she’s made. She knows that she is still a work in progress, who has come of the dark, and into the light.
Got Junk for Jesus, a Non-Profit 501 3(c) charity, calls upon the community to lend a hand to this amazing young woman, as she walks the path to a productive life.
Christina Cruz, a native Tucsonan, is an advertising adviser specializing in Internet Marketing and Social Media and Public Relations for TagLine Media Group. She serves on many non-profit boards throughout the community, including the Tucson Police Foundation, Midvale Park Neighborhood Association SNAPP and several others.