Judie's Journey

author/source: Judie VanKooiman

Photo Courtesy of SVEN MIEKEIn 2007 my life changed in a way that I never would have thought possible. In July of that year, I was fired from my full-time job of 18 years at a major law firm in Boston.

In August of that same year, my husband was diagnosed with esophagus cancer. Then on September 6th, a few days after his 68th birthday he passed away. I was so grateful that I was able to spend those last days with him. When he passed I had 2 motto’s, “Live each day to the fullest” and “There is a reason for everything”. 

At the time we owned a 2 family house. Our tenant had moved out shortly after my husband passed. Because I still had no major income and had two mortgages on the house, it was time to sell. I didn’t make that much off the sale, because there was major work that needed to be done in the house and the two mortgages.

The new owners wanted me to stay on and rent from them. Which I did for a short time, they were a very nice family, and because I had yet to find a job, and because of no income and the inability to pay the rent, I was evicted from my home.

I didn’t have any place to go. My Immediate family lived in Montana, and I couldn’t impose on friends, so the only thing I had left to do was go into a shelter. This experience I would not wish upon anyone.

Photo Courtesy of Jonathan MeyerThe shelter housed both males and females. If you wanted a bed or mat on the floor for the night, you had to get in line by 3:30 pm. At the door, they checked all your personal belongings. If you had any food or medications they took them. You were not even allowed to have gum on you. And every day, you were required to be at the shelter again by mid-afternoon. We were all fed through a soup kitchen next door that served lunch and supper.

One thing I did have during this time was my car. So I kept some of my personal belongings in my car. And some of my household items were in storage. It was very noisy in the shelter. I normally kept to myself and did word searches or crossword puzzles to keep myself busy.  The staff usually allowed the shelter guests to stay for 6 months, but I ended up staying 9 months. It was a big relief to finally leave there. I would not wish that onto anyone!

judie039s-journeyAfter a few years had passed I started a cable show, called “Life Issues”. It is a resource-information show. To date, 12 cable stations are airing the show. I really enjoy hosting this show. And have met some really interesting guests.

Soon after starting Life Issues, I started a non-profit in memory of my husband, Van. It is called Those Who Can, For Those In Need. We connect people and resources in need. We hold an annual resource fair so people can talk to the organizations in person.

I also joined a Speakers Bureau to tell my story about being homeless.  I will continue helping others as long as I can. Because I wish I had found something like this when I was going through the bumps in my life.

Judie VanKooimanBio and media sites:

Throughout my adult life, I have had many experiences in the workforce. Including working for a law firm in Boston as a Receptionist and Purchase Agent for 18 years.

But now I am working with my passion, as a Transportation Specialist, transporting special needs children.
I am passionate about volunteering. I get a special feeling for giving back. I serve on the CASA (Community Action for Safe Alternatives) Board, Winthrop Council on Aging Board, Friends of the Winthrop Council on Aging, I serve on the Forum on Tolerance with North Shore Community College, and I am a member of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce and serve on many committees. I am a Speaker with the MA Housing and Shelter Alliance to speak about my experience on being Homeless. And I also volunteer at My Brother’s Table.
After losing my husband, Van to Cancer and going through what I call my “My Bumps In My Life”, I started a cable show called Life Issues. This brings resources and information about different topics to the audience. And on the 5th Anniversary of his passing, I started a nonprofit in Van’s memory, “Those Who Can, For Those In Need. This organization brings resources and people together that may be going through their own bumps in their lives.
If you would like to learn more about Life Issues, please visit our Facebook page and to learn more about Those Who Can, For Those In Need, please check out our Website . And please visit our Facebook page and “Like” us.