Mission Was the Home That Penny Never Had
Life was an uphill journey for the early part of Penny’s life. She was in an orphanage by the age of 5, began drinking and doing drugs by the time she was 12, and experienced a failed marriage in her 20s. But the darkest moments came when Penny’s son from that marriage chose to live with his father. She was heartbroken – and turned to cocaine to numb the sting of rejection.
Her addiction eventually led to do whatever she could to get more drugs. One day Penny stole a diamond ring from a friend and sold it to a pawn shop. She was caught and arrested. That led to a jail sentence that ended up being one the best things that ever happened to her.
“I couldn’t run from jail,” Penny recalled. “I had to face who I was and what my life had become.”
It was in jail that Penny first heard about the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. It was His love, healing, and forgiveness that helped her leave behind her old lifestyle and addictions. – for good. The day she was released from jail, she knew she needed help getting back on her feet and creating a new future for herself. She heard about the Orlando Union Rescue Mission and decided to walk straight there after being released.
“I was used to living in institutions like orphanages or jail,” she said. “But the Mission wasn’t an institution. It was a home. It was truly my very first home.”
That was in 1989. Penny was among some of the first residents to stay at O.U.R. Mission Home, the women and children’s division of the Mission. No one knew it at the time, but this broken woman would one day assist others in finding their way back to life and hope. After completing the Discipleship Program and growing in her faith, Penny was invited to come on staff. She has worked in various roles throughout the years and currently oversees the new After Care Program for graduates of the Mission.
Two decades later, she lives in a townhome in Sanford and attributes all of who she is and what she has to God’s work in her life:
“God has given me the desires of my heart. He has healed my relationship with my son, provided a beautiful home, and given me a family here at the Mission,” she said.
Penny knows firsthand that providing a meal or a bed is important, but it doesn’t deal with the root cause of homelessness. She offers the accountability and guidance needed to reinforce what residents learn during their stay at the Mission – budgeting, responsible work habits, and maintaining healthy relationships. Her experiences provide unique encouragement because she can identify with the brokenness that comes with difficult circumstances, and she can share how she overcame those in her own life.
“It’s a privilege to help former residents live on their own again,” Penny said. “I want our graduates to know the same kind of love I have come to know here – that there are people by their side, praying for and working with them so they can succeed.”
Penny was one of the first residents at O.U.R. Mission Home. Each day, the home offers life-changing care to nearly 33 families. 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.