DeJuwuan J. Pope
My name is DeJuwuan Pope, and I have the privilege of being the President/Founder of The SID Center. I am going to talk to you today about my story. Not so you can feel bad for me, but to see how where I was and where I am at now. I am originally from Northern CA, born in Oakland, CA and raised in Sacramento, CA. Growing up has been really interesting for me. Growing up in Northern CA I was surrounded by positive attitude all the time. I’ve never met my real dad. Me & my mom were best friends. Growing up without a close father figure in my life was hard. I didn’t get pushed into playing sports, have the girlfriend talk. My step dad and I never had a good relationship. My younger step brothers were all close with him. I felt excluded and not really apart of the family. In high school I did not have really any support from my parents. I was basically doing high school alone. I felt alone, and pushed away because I was the only one in the family not 100% related to each other. High school was definitely a struggle for me. I was 16 about to turn 17 my senior year when everything went to shit… I went to a public service school, so there was extra curricular activities that I wanted to participate in, I had a passion for it. My parents saw no interest in it. One night I went to a meeting somewhere that they knew, I got home and they wouldn’t let me back inside. I ended up staying at a friends. They claimed I never came home and filed a missing persons report. Ever since then, tension grew even more between me and my parents. I started to believe my step dad, that guy, was feeding horrible thoughts to my mom and making her act a certain way because she was never like this towards me. My friends parents called CPS because they wouldn’t let me in, I had no idea they called. They came to my school the next day to talk to me. Asked me questions and stuff, not knowing they also went to my house to talk to my parents. When I got home later that day, it was the worst day in my life I would never forget. My step dad beat me like I was in an interrogation asking me why I get the CPS involved and am I trying to get my little brothers taken away. I have never felt that feeling before. Every answer I gave was the wrong one to him, so I got punched after every question. I couldn’t even recognize myself anymore after that. My face was so swollen that I looked like I grew 200 llbs. So many emotions were running through me that I can’t even explain. My mom was just standing there. Standing there looking at him do this, I was so defenseless. She did nothing to help me out. They forced me not to leave the house so no one would find out.
Once it healed days after, they took me to this psychiatric emotion hospital somewhere on Spring Mountain. I was in there for weeks. No contact with the outside world, I did not belong in there.I had no issues. One day, I ran away from the facility to my school and told everything what was going on to my counselor and close friends. Again CPS was called, they came to my school and talked to me. I made a choice that day not to go back home, I was terrified to. I found out once CPS encountered my parents once again, they did not want me to come back but denied all interactions that happened. CPS didn’t want me to go back, I then became apart of the state. I went to shelter. I was with this program for almost a month when I realized that that place wasn’t for me. Violence and drugs filled that place. I ended up leaving that place and decided I was on my own in this, still while trying to graduate HS. I have slept under bridges, in parks, cars, in hot and cold weather. Worst part of my life. There were multiple times I wanted to take my life, I was too weak to keep going, why was I alive still. Why me, Why now? Now its all on me why I have to live with my scars the rest of my life. Once I started working at Apple, I found my family. They changed that emptiness for me. One of my best friends family invited me to Central Church about 3 years ago. Changed my life. Never thought about being a Christian and what it meant. I felt accepted at this church, my skin color didn’t matter, my age didn’t matter, and most importantly my story didn’t matter. I started serving in Kids and found my joy. When I first started attending young adults, I didn’t have much friends around my age, that was my first only reason for going. Now I get to lead by side most of the most loving and admirable people I know. They are building me up. My life has definitely changed for the better. I found ways to stay content within myself and my past here at young adults. Revelation 3:20-21 is my favorite verse. Its a letter from John. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.” Talks to me about my journey in those long sleepless nights and those unguided lost days. I needed to come home and I did. I don’t see it has regrets, I don’t see it has failures, I see it has a success, I see it has my purpose to keep going. Creating this Nonprofit was another foundation I knew the Lord was asking me to do. Just because I got through what I was going through doesn't mean their aren't others out there. I wanna be a voice for the voiceless, the action for the weak, the movement for the shy. Greatness has to start somewhere, and for here it starts with growing our future leaders.