(Memphis) Dee Cummings knows her way around the kitchen at the Kroc Center in Midtown Memphis.
“The people I work with are really wonderful. It can be a laugh a minute in the kitchen,” Cummings said.
She works in catering and enjoys joking with co-workers, but her life has been no laughing matter, especially after facing battles with homelessness and cancer.
“I was mad at the world, mad at God, didn’t understand. Why me?”
Dee’s cancer made her turn to taking narcotics and drinking to ease the pain caused by her illness.
“My friends were like you’re going to kill yourself and I’m not drunk, but it helps me function.”
She refused chemotherapy and she was told she’d never have children, but surprisingly she did eventually get pregnant, expecting a daughter and she said another blessing happened.
“When I got pregnant with her it put me into remission and I’ve been in remission ever since.”
Dee would later work in several hospitals in different cities. but cutbacks forced her to return home to Memphis, but she couldn’t find work here either.
“Of course when my savings ran out that’s when they foreclosed on my house. I lost my house.”
The foreclosure and no job sent her life into a tailspin.
“I was like oh my God what am I going to do? I don’t have a job. How am I going to take care of my children?”
Her children ended up living with her sister. Dee lived on her savings before they dried up and moved into a hotel, but then things really hit rock bottom. She became homeless living in a Memphis park.
“I ended up really, truly in a park, under a bridge. I slept many place I wouldn’t tell anybody.”
She says what kept her going was her faith in God and the support she got from other homeless people.
“One of the guys I was on the street with said are you going to the Homeless Connect?”
Homeless Connect put Dee in touch with the Salvation Army’s Single Women’s Lodge.
“I can’t even put into the words the blessing to me because it was a weight off me.”
The Salvation Army’s single Women’s Lodge provided Dee with appropriate medication for her diabetes, temporary shelter and the means to find permanent housing. It’s difficult for her to imagine where she’d be without it.
“Probably still looking for work, still on the street.”
These days Dee Cummings is off the streets. She’s a productive worker at the Kroc Center and a mother who has a great relationship with her children. She calls the Salvation Army’s Single Women’s Lodge her salvation.
“I was blessed, blessed to be able to get into the Salvation Army.”