Danielle Finds Redemption After Years of Turmoil
Danielle grew up learning a way of life from her mom that foretold a grim future. By the time she was 15, she had taken up her mom’s way of earning income – dealing drugs. She dropped out of high school and in 2003, at the age of 23, Danielle ended up in jail, losing custody of her son in the process.
Jail removed Danielle from the outside world, which allowed her to take a step back and evaluate her life. “I saw that I was living out of resentment and anger. I didn’t know how to commit to anything or how to practice responsibility. It probably looked like I was rebelling, but in reality I didn’t know any other way to live.”
Danielle was determined to turn her life around after she got out of jail. She was able to gain custody of her son while she lived with family. But when her living situation encouraged the same lifestyle that led her to jail, Danielle knew she needed a more lasting solution. In 2006, she found the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. “I came to unlearn all the bad habits I learned as a girl. This was my opportunity to better myself and my child,” she said.
Since Danielle came to the Mission without her high school diploma, she started taking classes at the Career Learning Center, the Mission’s on-site adult high school. It was quickly apparent that Danielle had some major ground to gain back – at the age of 26, she had the reading comprehension of a fourth-grader. Though the idea of following instructions and committing to a process of learning was foreign to her, Danielle’s will proved stronger and more resilient than lifetime of bad habits. Sure enough, Danielle was reading and writing at an adult level in just three months. Her determination was so strong that it cut the average time of this self-paced program in half.
As Danielle learned key concepts to a sustainable life of integrity, she was able to put them into practice in her daily life. This proved to be one of the hardest parts of her year-long stay at the Mission. “Initially I hated having to get up at a certain time, submitting to authority, or cleaning my room. But I got to the point that I was tired of failing and that’s all my old lifestyle led me to: failure. I realized these new habits were helping me live right. They helped me see that life is about serving others before myself.”
During this time she also was receiving job training, which introduced her to a whole new world. “My only job before coming here was dealing drugs or showing up at a job long enough to get some cash. But here I learned how to commit myself to my work and work with excellence,” she shared. Danielle worked hard enough that she was offered a promotion and, in 2011, she moved to Miami Beach to take a Housekeeping Supervisor position at the Fontainebleau Resort.
Instead of passing along the lifestyle she learned as a little girl, Danielle is able to raise her son in a new environment: one of faith, commitment, and family. Her work ethic has been passed on to him as he excels in school and develops as a high school basketball player. “I have the privilege of giving my son the life I didn’t have,” said Danielle. “I’m not ashamed of anything we went through because God used it to redeem my life and the life of my son.”
Danielle earned a high school diploma, received job training and got a fresh start during her time at the Mission. Hers is one of thousands of lives transformed here over the last 65 years. Your gift of $26.82 provides a day of life-changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida!