The Life of Judy Pruitt has been a whirlwind of turbulence, abuse, neglect, violence, and the redemptive grace of a Living God.

 

The Life of Judy Pruitt has been a whirlwind of turbulence, abuse, neglect, violence, and the redemptive grace of a Living God. 
At the eye of her stormy life has been her belief in a God who loves her despite all the things she has done to stay alive, the invisible wounds of trauma.

Born into a family of abuse and neglect. Judy was sent to Texas Youth Commission, TYC, at age 11 for her violent behavior-in the context of trauma abuse, acting out.  Until her release as an adult at 18, she ran away three times and was returned each time pregnant.  Judy’s reasons for fleeing the TYC were validated almost 30 years later when international headline news of systematic and institutional sexual and physical abuse dating back to her teenage years in the custody of the state.

Those days as a teenage runaway, Judy earned the nickname of Snow, because of her fair skin and innocent look.  Snow was part of an estimated 1,000 street kids who lived on Westheimer Street in the Montrose neighborhood.  Accepted by the drag queens as a child, Snow was a Covenant House dropout, a real hard-core hustler- a term Judy used to describe her life in those days.

A chance encounter a few days before Christmas in 1988 between Snow and photojournalist Ben DeSoto lead to a collaboration spanning two decades in sharing to the public an understanding of underlying causes of chronic homelessness.  Snow was barefoot and panhandling the afternoon traffic with a sign “just a little help.”   The photograph published in the Houston Chronicle the next day   shows a smiling girl, a freeway overpass at back with an estimated 300 people living underneath it, including Snow.

 

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  In a longer report in 1992 presented Judy’s life as an adult foster child included her hustler lifestyle, and strained relationships with other outsiders and have nots, the jail system, the court system and a world of “haves.”  The resulting magazine article compelled area Christians to seek her out and “bring her to Jesus”.  These evangelical Christians were successful in converting Snow to Judy Pruitt denouncing violence and eventually become the “homeless preacher.”  Poverty still swirled around Judy and she still struggled to maintain something of a home in the hope of having one of her three children born after she was 18 years old live with her.  This dream was never realized for Judy, who as felon was shut out of most public assistance.  The evidence of long term post traumatic stress related behavior explains much of her erratic behavior patterns such as chronic sleeplessness, lack of trust of authority figures, making poor choices in who she could trust, and severe bouts of depression that developed into physical illnesses.
Still, Judy’s belief in a Living God compels her to be open and caring to just about everyone she meets on a daily basis, be a model prisoner when incarcerated and a tireless advocate for supportive housing for homeless and foster children such as herself.

© Ben Tecumseh DeSoto Photography / 713.705.1470 / zendfoto8@gmaill.com

 

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