Life Changer: Natalie’s Story
Natalie and her son are thriving at the Mission, surrounded by friends, and growing spiritually. But it wasn’t always that way. She and her son fled an abusive relationship with her son’s father in New York to come to Florida, seeking shelter with her mother and brother. With her tax refund in hand, Natalie planned to purchase a car, but her mother needed help. “Any time my mom needs my help, I’m going to help her,” was Natalie’s response, so the money was used instead on the family. Meanwhile, her brother became more and more physically, mentally, verbally, and emotionally abusive. Natalie and her son hid in their room, trying to escape his violence, and her son became nonverbal, trying not to make noise and disturb his uncle. Because her brother would hide the car keys or take the car, Natalie missed job interviews and could not take her son to the doctor. When her tax money ran out, she was given 30 minutes to pack and move out.
Natalie had read about the Mission and was hoping to find shelter there. She was crying and praying, “Lord, please, I need this place.” Her mother and brother dropped her off and didn’t even look back.
Not knowing if there was a room available, she asked, “Please, watch my kid. I’ll sleep outside.” By God’s providence, a room had just been vacated, was cleaned, and awaiting a new guest. Natalie and her son moved in that day and began their journey to healing.
Since then, Natalie has earned her high school diploma in the Mission’s accredited high school, grown closer to God through Bible classes, made close friends who provide support and encouragement and is planning to pursue training to work in the medical field. Her three-year-old son is thriving, talking, singing, and learning so much.
On her son’s third birthday, there was an ice cream party for the residents with birthdays that month, and he thought the entire party was for him! When the representatives of the law firm that sponsored the party found out, they returned with a backpack full of gifts for him.
Even after a long day of work in the cafeteria at Edgewater High School, a job she loves, Natalie still comes home and voluntarily does extra housework at the mission. Why are you still doing this, her friends ask. “Because if it wasn’t for this place, my son and I wouldn’t have a safe place to sleep, we wouldn’t have food in our bellies,” she replies.
Six years clean, drug-free, with a bright future, Natalie finds herself saying, “It’s a beautiful day, thank you, God, thank you for waking me up, thank you for this place.” Natalie is thankful for all who make her stay at the mission possible. “This place gives me so much hope. I don’t think [donors] realize how much they do, how much it changes people’s lives just to have this place. I don’t know where we would be right now if we didn’t have this place. Donor, you’re a life changer. Thank you for giving my son and me a brighter and better future.”