A Damien Love Story

Terri and Jesse's Story


December 10, 2021



“This place is full of love,” says Terri when asked about Damien Center. She found Damien Center in 2016, after moving to Indianapolis. Only a ten-minute drive from her home, she was able to access food, healthcare, housing assistance, and care coordination – all under one roof. “Everybody here treats you the same. It doesn’t matter what color you are, how sick you are, or how sick you’ve been.”

Soon after Terri became a client at the Damien Center, another client started accessing services: Jesse. An outgoing and vibrant character, Jesse had a way of making his presence known. “He had the ability to keep it real, be himself, and be authentic,” says a member of Damien Center’s support services team.

Most wouldn’t think of Damien Center as the setting for a love story, but the day Jesse and Terri met in the clinic, a bond blossomed. The two started dating March 13, 2019. Jesse, who began regularly volunteering in the Coby Palmer Food Pantry, soon convinced Terri to volunteer as well. “One day he asked me to unload the truck with him, and it was so much fun. Being at the Center brought us together and kept us together.”

Terri and Jesse’s connection strengthened and their involvement at the Center grew. They were married on December 14, 2019.

Terri and Jesse found that at Damien Center, they were home. Terri says, “Damien Center is family. It’s one big family. Damien will help you; they’ll make sure you strive and thrive.”

On August 26, 2021, Jesse unexpectedly passed away. It was one of the most difficult days of Terri’s life. “Everyone at Damien Center started calling me, checking on me, making sure I was okay. I didn’t know how to pay for a funeral. Damien Center staff pulled together and made sure Jesse had a funeral. Someone was always there for me. They are there to give me a hug.”

Within a month, Terri was able to come back to Damien Center and start volunteering again. “I love being at Damien Center. He’s here. He’s here with me. Jesse is everywhere in this building. Damien brought us together. If it wasn’t for this place, we wouldn’t have ever met.”

When a job opening for a Food Pantry Customer Service Specialist opened at Damien, Terri knew she was the perfect fit, so she updated her resume, applied, and interviewed. “When I got the job, I was shaking. I couldn’t believe it. It’s exciting and new, even though I’ve been here volunteering for two years in the pantry. It’s a new step in my life. I just want to help people. I want to make them feel wanted and comfortable when they come to Damien Center.”

“If this place wasn’t here, I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t make it. Damien does so much! It helps you, with housing, medicine, bills, food pantry, and so much more. Because of Damien, you’ll make it. I know it because I did.”

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