From Deep Despair… To Forever Together
“My four kids and I stayed at the Mission in 1993. We were there for nine months, three weeks, four days, 12 hours, and 20 minutes,” Barbara said with a smile.
Why did she keep track? She was caught in the tension of being away from her husband due to a jail sentence and the hope that life would not always be this way.
The family of six lived a fairly normal life – until 10 years into marriage, when Barbara’s husband developed a drinking problem. It escalated to an addiction that got so bad that money was spent on alcohol before basic necessities. It wasn’t until he was sentenced to six months in jail – and the family was evicted from their home – that the couple realized the gravity of their circumstances. Their lives, their marriage, and their children’s future were at stake, and Barbara was left without hope.
“The thought of being homeless was so foreign to me,” Barbara said. “I never wanted to end up in a shelter. But when we found the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, we didn’t find a shelter. We found a home.”
The weight of her circumstances had taken its toll on her and her demeanor showed it. “I walked around the first few months feeling horrible,” she recalled. “I didn’t understand how my life had led to this.”
Without knowing the other had done the same, both spouses decided to fight for their marriage by signing up for Christian counseling. While her husband was attending counseling and rehabilitation in jail, Barbara sought the love and support of Mission staff. She was able to identify her mistakes and work toward forgiving her husband. She also treasured the opportunities given to her children to help them recover and heal, such as getting help with homework and enjoying recreational activities with other children.
Barbara maintained her full-time job at Orlando Regional Medical Center while living at the Mission, which enabled the family to put aside money for the future. After her husband completed his sentence, they started attending counseling together. The faith-based lessons in finance, marriage, and parenting were exactly what they needed to start over.
The couple experienced such restoration that they decided to renew their vows at the Mission’s Chapel. “We are a forever-together family now,” Barbara said.
A few years after moving out to reunite with her husband, the couple decided to open their own pool-refinishing business. Their children have grown up to be a fashion designer, a masseuse, a photographer, and an MBA student. This year brought the couple’s 30th wedding anniversary and yet another new chapter in their lives: along with the pool-refinishing business, they are opening a new restaurant together in Eatonville called Kinsfolk Soul Food.
Barbara also is using what she’s learned here to develop a nonprofit called The Promise. Because of her firsthand experience with being in need, she hopes to serve the community by providing clothing, food, childcare, and senior care. She plans to have it up and running by the end of this year.
“The legacy of the Mission is restoring lives,” Barbara said. “And they have completely restored ours. You can’t even begin to put a price tag on what we learned here.”
Almost 2 decades later, Barbara’s family still remembers the tremendous impact friends like you made in their time of need. Each day, O.U.R. Mission Home offers life-changing care to nearly 33 families, like Barbara’s. Help create more stories of life transformation through your support today. Each gift of $26.82 provides a hot meal and life changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida!