The Meaning of Home – Success Story: Calesha’s Story
After living for a while in their car and hotels, Calesha and her two daughters will soon become owners of a new home. Their troubles started when Calesha was injured on her job in Tampa. She was eventually put on disability, but the monthly payments were only half the salary she had been receiving, her rent had doubled, and they eventually found themselves without a place to live. A friend asked them to move to Orlando and stay with her, but the arrangements weren’t what she had been told, so they found themselves back in the car again. A teacher at the girls’ school noticed something was wrong and told Calesha, “Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, I’m going to find you guys some help.” He reached out to the principal, who knew someone in their local church, who called the mission, and they got the good news that a space was available for them.
Now, over a year later, Calesha and her teenage daughters, Nia and Nina, are thriving at the mission. Sitting in her room, feeling like there was no way out, she prayed to God, “Please, just fix this.” Even though she hadn’t wanted to move to Orlando, she realizes now it was God answering her prayer. “If I hadn’t come to Orlando, none of this would be possible. I didn’t even know a place like this existed,” she said. “I came here purely by divine intervention.”
So many good things have happened during their stay at the mission. Calesha shares the knowledge she gains from finance, life skills, and parenting classes with her daughters, and their communication and closeness as a family have grown.
As part of her discipleship, Calesha served in the kitchen, which became a good transition to working with others, becoming responsible, and working with others’ rules. “I wanted to start a job right away, but if I had just jumped into working, I would not have been as successful. The transition of serving in discipleship helped me learn resilience.” She now works as an internet technical support person for a large communications company, a job she loves, where there are “good people, and I laugh every day. I’m grateful for everything I’ve endured, because I know if I hadn’t gone through those dark days and really tough times, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Many people apply for a Habitat for Humanity house, but few are selected. This year Calesha got the great news that she and her girls are on the list for a new house. She is already volunteering to help build houses for others and will help build her own house when the day comes. “It means so much for us to have somewhere to call home. It gives a new meaning to the word home. No more rent going up and having to move. This house will be ours and will provide stability and security.”
The most important thing she has learned is, “Don’t give up. Before I came here I felt like I had already given up hope. Being here has not been an easy ride, and someone helping you build hope is not easy, but someone caring enough to push you and show you that light at the end of the tunnel helps change your mindset.” Calesha plans to go back to school and continue her education and do more volunteer work, “now that I understand the value of it.”
“There aren’t words enough to say thank you. This place is a miracle, and it wouldn’t be possible without the donors and volunteers. They are not investing just in a program; they are investing in people. To lose hope and then gain it back again, that’s something that I will be eternally grateful for.”