Impact on Family Has Lasted 25 Years
Betty came to Orlando in 1988 as a single mother of three and moved in with a friend while she looked for work. Her background was in working with developmentally disabled adults, but the only jobs she was qualified for paid minimum wage.
“If you live off of minimum wage, you’re going to need help. It’s basically impossible to support yourself – along with a 12-, 10-, and 8-year-old – on minimum wage,” she explained.
Betty knew she needed an education beyond her GED to earn a higher income but had no time to go back to school – let alone the money to pay for it.
Their living situation was not working out and Betty started to look for different solutions for her family. Her oldest son was just 12 but every place she found wouldn’t accept their family unless he stayed in an adult men’s facility. This was unacceptable to Betty. She’d rather have the family sleep in the car before splitting apart – which is exactly what they did for three long nights.
A church referred Betty to the newly opened O.U.R. Mission Home, the women and children’s division of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. When she arrived, she couldn’t believe how clean and friendly it was.
“The people there stood out to me right away. They had an incredible ability to love everyone they met, no matter who they were,” said Betty. Best of all, the rooms accommodated families with older sons, allowing Betty’s family to stay together.
Being able to live at the Mission allowed Betty to return to school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Orlando Technical College. She was then able to get a job that provided adequate income to sustain her family. Not only did she become financially independent, her heart also changed.
“The staff was kind and brave enough to ask me the hard questions to help me identify how I got to the point of homelessness and what I was going to do get out of it,” she said. “They taught me how to save money and how to stay on track in life.”
About a year after her family was living in the car, Betty moved out of the Mission into an apartment in Orlando and continued to strengthen her career in nursing. While working, she went back to Florida Southern College to obtain her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She currently lives in Winter Haven and works at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. It’s a fitting career since Betty’s passion is helping others. “My time at the Mission helped me realize my calling to help others who are hurting,” she said.
In 2005, Betty married a godly man who has joined her in that pursuit. They volunteer at a food pantry in Polk County and they are working on opening a GED program in the community. Betty also hosts a women’s Bible study in her home.
“It’s my way of giving back. I could never repay the Mission for what they poured into each of our lives,” Betty said. “I want to make sure others receive that same kind of love we did when we needed it most.”
Betty beams with pride as she reflects on where her children are today. All three have stayed in the Orlando area. Her oldest son runs his own lawn care business, her middle daughter works in a child care facility and her youngest daughter is pursuing a radiology degree from Seminole Community College.
“They have truly flourished. They know how to value people and how to be grateful in all things,” Betty said. “It may have been a difficult season, but we are all better off because we went through it.”
It’s been 25 years but Betty’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 Betty’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!