Evelyn’s Tale of Triumph in Her Own Words
Before I share with you how the Mission has changed my life, please allow me to share a bit about what homelessness can look like. Sometimes it’s a grimy man or woman sitting on a park bench, but other times it looks perfectly normal – just like you. People don’t know you are falling through the cracks, fighting for your life. But I’ve learned that whatever the mistakes of your life are, God doesn’t let you go. He keeps your dignity no matter where you find yourself.
My story starts when I was only 3 years old. It was at that age that I lost ties with my parents – and I’m not bitter about that anymore, they just weren’t ready to be parents. But as a result of that, I have always felt like I was a human being who was limping through life.
I worked to support myself ever since the age of 17. I was young and could quickly learn any job I was hired to do. But I didn’t have the skills needed when the world changed – you know, when your employment eligibility depended on your computer skills. My mentality became focused on just getting through the day. I knew it wasn’t right – but when your life becomes fragmented, you find yourself only able to focus on surviving.
I began to look for day labor to make ends meet. It never bothered me – as long as it was good, honest work, I was happy to do it. Plus I figured that if I ever owned a castle, I should know how to clean it!
Eventually, I did find a stable job – but it didn’t pay much. Things were going along for a while but one day I got my check and realized it would only cover rent or my diabetes medication – not both. I was forced to choose between my health and my home. I chose my health and began sleeping in horrible places like abandoned homes or broken-down hotels. My heart hit the bottom of the earth when I had to give up my beloved dog – the only family member I really had.
I can still remember finding the Mission in January 2012. A friend from church brought me there and I finally had a clean, safe bed to sleep in at night. In fact, I had never slept on a more comfortable bed in all my life. It was much nicer than the abandoned homes and decaying apartments I had slept in only days prior.
It took a while for me to settle into this place. For so long I was used to living in the kind of despair that leaves you feeling helpless. After living years only thinking of survival, it’s hard to learn how to help yourself. But the Mission helps you get past that kind of mindset. My case manager played a key part in my restoration. She taught me how to love others and encouraged me through the tough days. The entire staff surrounds you with their love and support, thus making it possible to not only get back on your feet but transform your entire outlook on life.
It was a bittersweet day when I moved out of the Mission in October 2012. It was sad to leave behind the place that helped me feel like I wasn’t limping through life anymore! But I was finally reunited with my dog (he stayed with a friend of mine while I was at the Mission) and I count it a tremendous blessing to have an apartment of my own in Orlando, with room for my dog!
After so long of needing help, I am excited to share with you that I am finally able to give back. I am now part of a grandparent program that places grandparent-aged people in schools to mentor and love the students. It’s my way of making sure young children don’t grow up the way I did. I want them to feel known, loved, and cared for because I know firsthand that those things are what it takes to live a life of hope, not of despair.
Evelyn learned how to help herself during her time at the O.U.R. Mission Home. Other women, children and families are receiving life-changing care as well. Your gift of $26.82 will provide a day of food, shelter and other care for someone who is working hard to become self-sufficient.