“Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you’re not somebody.”

Bronya’s father never gave up on her. Not when she moved into a tent that became her home for five years, or when she lived in a camper for three more. 

Bronya finally escaped the cruelty and violence of the man she was involved with for more than a decade. She suffered constant beatings and verbal abuse. Her self-esteem was destroyed and she started using drugs to dull the pain. 

Bronya’s life was never easy but being homeless was the worst. It was lonely and scary. When she lived outside, she had to watch out for copperheads and other wild animals. Coyotes came so close to her tent that she could hear them breathe, and listening to the eerie growl of the bobcats was terrifying. 

Her father checked in on her daily while she was living outside and ultimately was the main motivation for her to become sober and live in recovery. Bronya has been in recovery now for more than two years. 

The only good thing about living outside was meeting Nubs, Bronya’s little Chihuahua. The woman whose land she pitched her tent on, forced one of her puppies on Bronya despite her refusals. That first night, it was so cold in the tent that when Bronya awoke, Nubs was curled up and snuggled around her face. “Now that’s real love.” And since then, they’ve never been apart. 

Homeward Bound moved Bronya and Nubs into their own home last October. Right around that time, she was hospitalized with pneumonia and diagnosed with COPD and told she’d be on an inhaler for the rest of her life.

“She is so much healthier since she moved into housing,” exclaimed Bronya’s Case Manager Anne Greene. “She’s outdoors all the time gardening, sleeping, and eating better. Before, she had no refrigeration and could only eat packaged foods. Now Bronya eats salads that she grows, her emotional health has improved, and the doctor has taken her off the inhaler.”

Bronya, who was a landscaper for 18 years before she became homeless, is an expert and innovative gardener. She found plant material all over her property, along with pieces of “found art”, and turned a barren landscape into lovely, fanciful little gardens. Bronya loves her home and looks forward to creating more unique garden spaces.

 “Don’t give up on people who are homeless,” muses Bronya.“ Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you’re not somebody. You just fell on hard times. There’s more to a person’s story than just that.”

Bronya is still writing her story; a beautiful landscape yet to be finished. Watch an interview with Bronya here.