Time at the Mission Restores Olivia’s Dignity
Olivia’s heart broke when she heard that both of her nephews’ parents were sent to jail in late 2010. The three boys, ranging in age from 2 months to 4 years old, were all alone with no one to love and care for them. She couldn’t bear the thought of them staying with anyone except family, so she took them into her home – despite the fact her housing complex didn’t allow children.
Olivia knew that by taking custody of her nephews she was also giving up the home she had known for years. But that was only the tip of a much bigger problem: Taking on the role of caregiver meant that her income was stretched beyond what this new family needed. She simply couldn’t afford housing that would accommodate herself and her nephews.
“I felt hopeless – I now had these three boys to take care of with no place to go,” Olivia recalled.
She moved in with her grandmother for a while but with three energetic boys to feed and care for, Olivia knew it could only be a temporary place to stay. A friend referred her to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, a place Olivia had seen before but didn’t know much about. She was grateful to find a clean, spacious room designed for the whole family.
“It felt like a home … a home that welcomed us with open arms,” she said.
Olivia immediately started working in the Mission’s discipleship work program and was placed in the kitchen. Hopelessness gave way to hope as she helped create and serve daily meals at the Mission. She excelled to the point that she was given a leadership role in the kitchen. This renewed her confidence and taught her that she could not only lead a team of her peers, but she could also lead her new household as well.
“My whole experience there taught me about the capacity I have for working. It restored my dignity!” she said.
All three boys were able to play, learn, and grow in a positive environment, with the family needs met by the Mission. This allowed Olivia to not only get the work training she needed but also look for a job that would sustain them. Over the course of their one-year stay, Olivia studied to become a certified child care provider and was hired at a child care facility. This allowed her to save up enough money to rent an apartment in Orlando.
Today, you can find Olivia doing whatever she can to raise and love her nephews. All three boys love to play football after school and in the summers. Olivia credits the work training and structure she learned at the Mission as key components in learning how to raise children and provide for their needs.
“Little things we were asked to do – like make the bed – helped us practice the discipline you need to raise a family. It creates stability and gives you dignity,” Olivia said. “God has certainly watched over us every step of the way. It feels beautiful to have our own place – I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”
“I’m so grateful that the Mission let us stay with them, but I’m sure glad to be back on our own!”
Two years after leaving the Mission, Olivia remains grateful for the opportunity she had to rebuild her life so she could care for her nephews. Other families are finding that opportunity here as well, thanks to the generous support of people like you. Your gift of $26.82 provides a day of life-changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida.