Life can be hard, and harder for some than others. No matter how bad things may get only love has the power to lift and heal our hearts and minds. Je’net Kreitner discovered a way to harness the power of love to heal herself and others. Now she’s sharing the power of love with the world! Anyone who meets Je’net can tell there is most certainly a loving spirit about her that is contagious!
No matter how well loved -or isolated- you may feel now, there are a few things you can learn from her story. Her story will increase the love you feel and give out into the world. There is a certain kind of hope that comes along with sharing Je’nets brand of love. You see, Je’net wasn’t always this beaming spirit. Like all too many, she suffered abuse at the hands of those that failed to love and protect her. First from the friend of a babysitter, who took her innocence as a child. Then her father who she turned to for support. Instead of consoling and protecting her, he perpetuated the sexual abuse. Her father continued until she was 14 years old. Her mother enabled the abuse by turning a blind eye.
Most victims of abuse as children end up in a pattern of abuse as adults, and Je’net was no different. She went from one abusive relationship to the next abusive relationship. At one point she found herself abandoned on the side of the road with a 5 year old son. She had to take shelter in a phone booth to keep warm. But she persevered. She didn’t have any family that would take her in. During this difficult time, Je’net wouldn’t let her lack of unconditional love stop her from showing it to her son. She did what she could to find work and save up for a nice motel, so she could be together with her son during the weekend.
One Sunday she had enough money to stay a third night. Je’net’s story could have ended as tragically as it began like so many others who fall into the trap of homelessness.
A special singular soul showed up in the park she chose to go read in. Walking by, he saw the book she was reading and struck up a conversation. She let it all out…. She recalls, “I don’t know, he was there at the right time and it’s in the right moment. And I found myself pouring out my whole story to this man on that park bench. Everything, even how excited I was to just have that motel room to myself for a night. And then the remarkable part about it was that he just listened. He didn’t try to interrupt me or stop me or provide solutions or comments about how to fix it. He just let me… let it out! I just thought it was really nice of him, and he went on his way and I went on mine!”
But the big shock came the next morning when she heard a knock on her hotel door. In the doorway stood the same man she had chatted with the night before, Pat. He said, “I can’t get you off my mind. You don’t belong out there Je’net. I don’t have much, but I will move out of my one bedroom into my living room and allow you and your son to come stay in my bedroom. I promise to be a gentleman. You don’t have to worry about me. I just want to give you some time to get back on your feet. Sounds like you have enough skills to get a job if you just have a place to stay.”
It was bizarre for her to hear that, but not as bizarre as she found it when, without thinking, she just said yes! Pat was true to his word, he was a gentleman, and it was truly perplexing for Je’net, who had never experienced such love. It was January 24th 1994 when they first met, and they’ve never been apart since.
But it was November 2000 when Je’net’s mission came to light. They had just signed papers for a home of their own. This home has provided a place for them to foster 8 children. While at a bible study she had an epiphany. She says, “I realized God is telling me that I will always have a home, forever. It didn’t have anything to do with the four walls of the house I was now living in, it was the fact that in a very tangible way I would always have a home filled with love, that I had a home in Him.” It was then that she began a ministry to “pay forward” the healing power of unconditional love. Je’net formed her own fully fledged non-profit in 2007. She named the non-profit Grandma’s House of Hope. Grandma’s House of Hope provides hope and love to the homeless. The homeless and the most vunerable among us receive housing, food, and an education there. Je’net has grown Grandma’s House of Hope from a budget of $27,000 in 2007 to nearly $6,000,000 in 2020. Through Je’net’s leadership Grandma’s House of Hope has grown to 17 shelters. She has a thriving staff who love what they do.
What is her secret to success? Je’net explains, “It all comes from a singular place of wanting to truly know people, no matter where they are at or what they’ve suffered through, and loving that moment when you look in their eyes and you call them by their name. And they know that I see them and they’re no longer invisible. In that moment, their stories are no longer complicated, and they can take the steps needed to put their life back together.”
From Je’net and Pat’s story we learn that unconditional love is truly a contagious thing. Even if you haven’t received it you can still give it, as Je’net did for her son and as Pat did for her, despite all. Further, once caught, that love has the power to heal old wounds. In turn, it spreads that same healing love to everyone you meet and influences everything you do.
So yeah… Love is contagious, pass it on!