“I was raised up on a farm, sharecropping” Lee Everet Dial told Nancy Gatlin, of Virginia Beach’s Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, a homeless shelter and recovery center. At 78, Lee is a former resident of JCOC, and still comes by for the occasional meal.
“When I was 11 years old,” Lee continued, “I used to take two big mules and turn ground all day long, out in the country. It weren’t easy.”
The oldest of eleven children, Lee worked 72 acres of cotton, corn, and tobacco on his family’s land in North Carolina. The job was year-round and left him with little time for school. “I got to school about two days a week, and I was the biggest kid in school. I got disgusted with school. My dad said, ‘you’re worth more to me at home than you are in school. You got to work on this farm. We got to live.’ And so it was hard,” Lee remembered. “And I still have a problem with not being able to read and write. But God sees me through.”
Lee brought his guitar to the booth. While growing up, he used to play clubs in Virginia and North Carolina. Today, Lee fills the booth with his bluesy renditions of “
Nancy’s story was different. “I had a problem, years ago, with drugs and alcohol. If it werenât for JCOC and their programs and guidance, I probably wouldn’t be here today.” Nancy has been sober over six years, and she now works as JCOC’s kitchen manager.
Nancy and Lee have known each other since 1995.
“He’s easy to talk to,” Nancy explained. “Kind-hearted, good Christian. Proud to say he’s your friend and you know him.”
Lee agrees. “Ever since I met Nancy, we’ve always been good friends, yes sir. I couldn’t ever say anything against this woman.”