What Jessica’s Story Looks Like | Interview

NAME: Jessica Jones
From: Richmond, VA
Fact: Jessica is an angel and I love her
Another fact: Jessica is one of the most fun people I know

Jessica works for the Real Life Center in Richmond, VA. To read more about the Real Life Center, visit THIS blog post interviewing the founder, Dr. Sarah Scarbrough.

I started to talk to Jessica about how they help the homeless. She said that ultimately, they try to point them in the right direction for housing… mentioning that Real Life has their recovery house but it only hosts 9 people at a time. It’s hard for her to come to work the next day and see SO many more people who need help as people line up for the soup kitchen that’s right next door to their office.

Jessica worked for Dr. Sarah in the jail which is how she ended up working with the Real Life Center.

“We don’t clock out” – Jessica’s work is constantly on.

I asked Jessica about emotional challenges that come with the job. I think questions like this are SO important to ask people who are working in this field because so many people can’t imagine voluntarily stepping into such difficult work.

“So, literally the intake I just did before I came in here was a victim of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.” Jessica then went on to mention how this is something she sees and hears every single day, and how it’s hard not to become numb to it.

Occasionally, Jessica will get hit with a hard story and say to herself, “I need a minute.” This simple sentence from someone who perpetually stays in a state of listening to hard stories is proof that being in a tough field like this doesn’t keep you immune to being overcome with emotion for people in hard situations. You can only turn it off so much for so long until you get it really hard once in a while.

They call this secondary trauma.

Jessica made a statement I loved. She said she would take this traumatic and heavy stress over frivolous stress any day. This is another reason I adore her and her heart.

Jessica said she was so sensitive before she started working in the jail. She grew thicker skin and was used to being in a male dominated profession. She knows that her experience working in the jail totally set her up to be able to handle working for the Real Life Center.

Do you have any favorite people that you’ve worked with? She talked about her favorite gentleman they’ve worked with, stories of how kind he is and how when he relapsed they were SO worried but how he’s doing well now. “He just pulls on my heart strings” Jessica mentioned. “Does he know that you guys love him?” I asked. She said he definitely knows he’s a favorite, haha!

Can you imagine this man’s life without this kind of support? I’m willing to bet that Jessica and the Real Life staff will never know the magnitude of how important they have been to him. I love what they are giving to people. Support and hope is everything.

“What do you wish people knew about homelessness…especially people who are like ‘they should just get a job?’” I asked Jessica.

Jessica replied, “Oh my gosh, it’s not that easy. And when they call them bums? Ugh. Okay, some of it I understand. I understand the stereotype of not understanding and just putting a label on something just because you don’t understand it.” Then candidly Jessica and I BOTH agreed that we grew up being encouraged to stay away from the homeless, not to talk to them, not to make eye contact, etc.

Jessica mentioned how studies show now that an overwhelming amount of people are ONE paycheck away from being homeless. She hit the nail on the head. YES. In recent sociological research I did – I saw that if Mike was the only one working in our home, we would BARELY be above the poverty line for a family of five. WOW.

“Making $7.35 an hour is not going to give them a place to live.”

I AGREE, girl, I agree.

I asked what the Real Life Center could use the most of and Jessica remarked that awareness is what they could use a lot of. Sometimes people are ignorant to how important the work they are doing is and they like to “other” people, or assume that “those people aren’t like them” – and HELLO, that is what Homeless Looks Like is ALL about! We are connectors. We are POSITIVE that we are all so much more alike than different. We love to bring awareness to this.

Jessica selflessly goes to work daily determined to make a difference. I know that the reason the Real Life Center has shined so bright in its first year plus of operation is because of the wonderful people who show up to do the hard work that has been needed for so long, and Jessica you are such a warm, inspiring part of that. We are SO honored to know you!




Thank you for reading about Jessica and all of the incredible work she is doing with the REAL LIFE Center in Richmond, Virginia!!

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THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda + Mike


Shallow questions and answers from Jessica HERE:

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