In 2003, Jarrett Gipson found himself on the cusp of a breaking point. He was living alone in Florida, with no real family or friends, struggling with a drug addiction, and living in a tent outside of a fellow drug addict’s house that was full of standing water. His head was filled with thoughts of hopelessness and despair because of the negative experiences he had encountered in his childhood: abusive family members, shuffling from foster homes to institutions, and no real spiritual beliefs or life guidance. That’s when he met his bride, Melissa Rutherford. He was sitting in a friend’s trailer when she walked into his life. She was invited over by a mutual friend, and there was an instant connection between the two. That same day, they moved in together. She went with him to his tent and retrieved what few belongings he had, all of which were soaked from the rain and infested with frogs and insects. Three months later they were married and trying to raise a family together. Melissa had two children from a previous relationship that Jarrett connected with immediately. He finally had a chance to be loved and learn what it meant to have a family. Unfortunately, they still had their struggles. They moved to Missouri where the ups and downs seemed to continue relentlessly.
Upon their first visit to the Dream Center, Melissa and Jarrett felt like they had truly and harshly hit rock bottom. Their family had suffered some incredible losses throughout the last few years, and they felt like they no longer had a grasp of who they were and where to turn for help. In April of 2014, the Gipson’s lost their oldest son. Shortly after, investigators found black mold in the grieving family’s home, resulting in them moving into emergency shelter so their 3 girls weren’t removed from the home. They were booted out of their family home, forced into a motel for months, and had to sell their car to afford the rent. The Gipson family felt like they had been completely devastated within a matter of days. There seemed to be no way out of the darkness that had swallowed them. That’s when Melissa first heard about our organization.
When Melissa first starting coming to the Dream Center, the only help she wanted was from the food pantry, so she could feed her family. Adamant that she had no interest in talking to anybody or becoming involved with the Dream Center, Melissa was content to stay in her corner, alone and without support. On some level, she felt that there was no point. She felt like the bare minimum was enough effort. Looking back, that line of thinking breaks her heart. However, she slowly grew to trust the staff here at the Dream Center. After just a few visits, she was talked into joining the Circles Program. According to Melissa, this is what opened up a whole new world of possibilities for herself and her family. At first, it felt like her whole family was against her. She felt that her husband, Jarrett, wasn’t supportive of the idea, and her kids were fighting her the whole way. It felt like she was losing the battle before it even began. But she wasn’t ready to give up just yet. She set amazing goals for herself, brought her husband to classes with her, and brought her kids here to get them involved in the process. Eventually everybody was on board and supporting her; she even talked Jarrett into enrolling in Circles, too. Melissa believes that the Dream Center gave her the motivation to start over. It helped her realize dreams she didn’t even know she had. The hope she now feels for her family’s future is driving her to new, incredible heights.
Now they’ve become a huge part of the Dream Center family! Melissa and Jarrett love to volunteer and give back any way they can. For them, it’s a way to get back to God and give back to a community they love so dearly. It’s a support system they didn’t know they needed and now they want to be that for somebody else. Now, Melissa is looking to start up her very own home business, Jarrett has recently come to know Christ and is working on becoming a more supportive husband and father, and their middle daughter is very involved with the North Point youth program. Melissa believes that this place is a second home for her and her family. It gives her kids some place to go that’s safe and structured; she never has to worry about them and knows they’re learning valuable lessons here. It’s also a safe space for her and her husband to socialize and be comfortable. We are so incredibly proud of the victories that the Gipson family has had here. They’ve come so far and we’re so excited to see where they’re headed to next! Families like them are truly the heart of this organization.
Melissa, ever the confidant and encourager, wants each of our readers to remember, “As long as you make someone smile, it’s been a good day.” She passes on these words in memory of her sweet son.