Photo of Tess


Article by Amber Mitchell, Intern


A Safe Place to Heal: Tess’s Story

Tess worked as an angiographer in an ophthamology clinic in Savannah. Paid well, she was able to take in one of her daughters and two grandchildren, taking care of all household expenses. However, things shifted greatly in her life when she began to have major health issues. She had back surgery and gradually began having pain in her hands, in which she could no longer perform her job. Tess decided to try working as an Uber driver, but due to her pain, this attempt did not last long.

In October 2016, Tess began to have an incredible pain in her hips and would be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and later with Rheumatoid arthritis. This stressful time of unemployment and health concerns was worsened by the verbal abuse occuring at home, resulting in depression. Her counselor advised that she apply for disability and look for a shelter to escape the verbal abuse.

“I knew nothing of this world. I had always worked since I was 13, provided for my entire family, raised 3 girls on my own…”

After a brief stay with her sister in Wyoming, Tess arrived back in Savannah, homeless. After a 3 month stay at Inner City Night Shelter, she was ready to give up. “I told the Lord I can’t do this anymore. If I stay here come winter time, I’ll commit suicide.” The next day, the case worker found a place for her. “I just broke down and started crying”, Tess says. She’ll never forget the pivotal day she arrived at Union Mission’s Barnes Center-March 13, 2018.

Tess says that Union Mission saved her life. It was extremely hard being homeless while also dealing with her medical conditions. “People look at me and say, …you’re disabled?…You can’t see my disability…you can’t see the pain.” Being at the Barnes Center has helped her obtain all of her medications, has greatly improved her mental health through counseling, and has provided a safe place for her to heal.

“Being homeless, you find out very quickly who does what and who can offer you what and this [Union Mission] is the most rounded organization there is-there is nothing [else] like this in Savannah.”


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