Celena’s Short Stay Leads to a Better Life
Celena couldn’t take it any more. Her husband, a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder, was drinking heavily and had become very difficult to live with.
“He wasn’t handling civilian life very well,” Celena said. “I had two young girls and I just couldn’t keep them in that environment.”
Celena was working part time at a fast-food restaurant in Kissimmee and not making enough money to get an apartment. Staying with family wasn’t an option, so Celena looked for a safe place for her and her daughters. She heard about the Mission and, when she came in to apply, she recognized her case worker as someone she attended church with, which immediately put her at ease.
The family moved into O.U.R. Mission home in June 2001. Celena continued working while the children were cared for in the nursery. She also took the Victorious Life Class and grew in her faith, and she gladly performed the chores she was assigned.
“I’ll tell you, I was up at 4 o’clock every morning and cleaning those stairs,” she said. “And I was grateful to do it, with all the Mission was providing for us. It was a small price to pay.”
Although her children were very young, they enjoyed their time there and have a few happy memories.
“My oldest remembers sitting in a circle in a high chair eating cake, and she remembers going to Sunday School there,” Celena said. “My youngest was only 1 at the time so she doesn’t really remember, but they were both happy. It was a very peaceful place for them.”
Celena also found comfort among the other residents. “My fondest memory is getting together with the mothers,” she said. “We’d sit and talk while our kids played together. We’d sit together at dinner. It felt like a big family.”
Over the next several months, Celena was able to save enough money to get a place of her own. Then, in September, God intervened and a generous family in Sanford approached the Mission with the offer of a home for a year, rent-free, for a resident who was ready to move out. Celena jumped at the opportunity and was able to attend nursing school while she lived there. Today she is a phlebotomist.
It hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Celena and her daughters since they left the Mission. Her youngest developed a blood disease and the treatments at a cancer hospital maxed out their insurance, forcing Celena to incur a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. The family has since moved to Tennessee to be closer to a specialty hospital, and Celena is thankful to say that her daughter is doing very well today.
Celena was only at the Mission for about four months but she says it was one of the most important periods of her life. “I was at a point in my life where I needed to stop, regroup and get myself together,” she said. “They gave me that opportunity. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and I am very thankful.”
Each day, O.U.R. Mission Hope provides life-changing care to more than 30 families. Your gift of $26.82 provides a hot meal and a day of care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida.