Resident Stories

Jonathan McKnight

Life growing up for me wasn’t always easy. My Dad left when I was three, without saying a word. For several of my younger years I was beaten by a father figure. When he was finally out of the picture, I thought things would get better. It didn’t much. My mother chose another abusive man over her kids. It wasn’t as bad though, probably because we were older. I love my mom, none of us are perfect. I was so excited with the thought of my real Dad coming back to town. I thought things would be different now. All he said to me was “What’s your name?” He didn’t try to save us from an abuser. He didn’t say he was sorry. He didn’t say he missed us. He didn’t say he loved us. He didn’t even know my name. That was the only thing he said to me after all that time. I never saw him again after that. There were many nights we didn’t have food. School was sometimes the only time I ate. My friends at school had no idea I didn’t have a dad, they didn’t know I was beaten daily. I met a girl in kindergarten that I’m still friends with. She was the good girl and I was the bad kid, I’m not sure why she would want to be friends with me. I found myself at Bethlehem House when I was 18. I stayed for 6 months before I was kicked out. I had a lot of attitude and anger, I wasn’t ready for the program. I was able to come back after 6 months, my attitude was getting a little better and I realized it was better than sleeping on a relative’s porch. The staff loves me, all of them. I’m not sure why but they do. I got kicked out again for not following some of the rules. Being kicked out doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean that people stop helping either. Mrs. Judi didn’t rest until she found me a place to stay. They found a program that better suited my needs in another city and they took me in. I worked on anger but became super antisocial. Judi visited me a lot, the staff came some too. Mrs. Judi and some of the staff drove me up there. It was a long quiet drive with lots of tears. It was hard. I didn’t see my family much during that time, but I was cool with that. I was there for about a year. I met up with an old friend who helped me move to another town and I went back to school. I graduated in 2010 in Culinary Arts. I moved back to Conway but didn’t have a home again. People would put me up but it was just until my money ran out then they didn’t need me around anymore. I learned a lot of discipline during that time because I was saving money for an apartment. I had a job and moved into my own apartment. I lost my job on Christmas Day. After staying with more friends I ended up in a shelter in north Arkansas. They were good to me. I came back to Conway when my grandmother passed away and my step mother was ill. I was living with my sister for 4 months but after an altercation with her boyfriend I had to leave. I stayed two days in a motel and then was able to get an apartment. I was blessed to have met that girl in kindergarten. She loves me unconditionally. She helped lead me to Christ, which is why my life has finally turned around. I felt immediate peace and happiness when I accepted Jesus. I attend church, small groups and come back weekly to Bethlehem House to visit, volunteer and meet new people. I love them all back.

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