Categories
Guest Stories

John’s Story

It was a different time. Post war, the baby boom was in full swing. With a surplus of babies, both planned and unplanned, illegal selling of children on the black market to parents unable to conceive, became a dark and hidden stain on America’s timeline. If this surprises you, imagine how John’s parents felt when a doctor who was brokering these shady deals, actually sought them out and offered them $500 to part with their new son. Of course, they said no. Despite rejecting the doctor’s offer though, John’s mother had a lot on her plate on top of a newborn.

A mother of eight, she did her best to be the disciplinarian in place of her often-overseas merchant marine husband, on top of all her regular duties as “mom.” Again, it was a different time, and expectations of a mother were much different than today. Having a seven year old daughter who was fascinated by the sight of her little brother, their mom gave her John as a birthday present. Big sis started caring for John like he was her own personal doll to feed, change, rock to sleep, and to care for. From that point forward, his sister became the nurturing “mother,” while his mother took the harder authoritarian role of “father,” driving fear into the hearts of her children when it came time for punishments.

At the age of six, John experienced something that in 2020 would warrant a child services call, but again, these were different times. It was Christmas morning, and his dad was able to be home for Christmas that year. John and his brothers and sisters had woken at 3am with their mother and started opening their presents, while their dad still slept. Pulling out a wind up choo choo train, he was so delighted, he just had to show it off to his brother. But his excitement woke his father, causing him to send six-year-old John to sleep out in the outhouse—in December. His mother quickly brought him a blanket, and she said that everything would be alright in the morning. It’s a wonder he didn’t freeze to death that night. It was then that he realized the most powerful thing he’d ever learned. God alone was his Father, and his “pop” was just the man who sired him. At that point, he developed a true father-son relationship with Jesus. He devoted every waking moment to learning more about the man who died on Calvary and about God who promises to always be there to hold us, even in our darkest moments. That passion for the Lord never failed him, and it continues to this day. In fact, his legal name is incredibly John Saint Divine.  

While John’s dad was away working on oil tankers, his mother started losing her grasp on reality. It started with small things, but eventually it escalated to the point where the older kids couldn’t keep her reality in check anymore. One day, their mother started saying that she would hurt the children. John’s oldest brother heard her deranged rantings, as she was asking for a shot gun so she could kill them all. He cleverly deceived her into thinking that he was looking for the gun, while another sibling worked to get all the other children to safety and alert the authorities. He was still a very young child when he and all his siblings were removed from the home and scattered among various family members. Ultimately most of the children landed in an orphanage with authorities unable to reach their father and having sent their mother to an institution. Again, it was different times back then.

Within a year, John’s father returned, and reclaimed the children. The damage had been done though. Being shuffled around, suffering mental and physical abuse, plus the children’s mental state to have their own mother try to kill them, and then be sent into an orphanage, must’ve weighed heavy on them all.

At age 17, John joined the Navy where he served for two years before being honorably discharged. After leaving the Navy, he felt no real course for his life other than his passion for God. Feeling called to a greater purpose, rather than work till he died and achieve no great thing, he preferred life on the streets, where his time was his, and he could spend all his time learning and growing in his faith and witnessing to the other homeless people that he surrounded himself with. Despite being on the streets for most of his adult life, he did have a home from time to time, and during one of these times, God gave him a vision. In his vision, God told him, “If you follow me, you will play as good as the masters.” John became a musician and talented pianist. So in between studying the Bible and spreading the message of the Gospel, he also studied and practiced music.

In spite of his relationship with God, he came out of the Navy with a drinking problem. While he had periods of sobriety, he fell back into his addiction in 1988 when a trauma hit him very hard, and he ended up back on the streets again. He moved from Oregon to Oklahoma, back to Oregon, and places in between. In 2017, he was able to get off the streets through a veterans program while he was in Oregon. It was during this time that he learned that his youngest sister had terminal cancer. He invited her to visit, but she stayed, living out the rest of her days with him. He cared for her all the way up until she passed. And then he was back on the streets again.

The homeless in Corvallis, Oregon had changed though since his last experience with homelessness. They were somehow meaner, and it was more dangerous to be on the streets. It was recently when another homeless person came up from behind him and hit him in the back of the head, inadvertently breaking his neck. All his things were stolen, and he was left for dead, but thanks to the grace of God, he pulled through. He moved back to Idabel to be near family and friends, sensing that the end was near because of his injury. He drank for 3 days straight and no longer wished to live. Concerned for him, the Idabel police department brought him to Saint Francis in Muskogee, the nearest facility providing psychiatric help. After he became stable, they referred him to us, here at Gospel Rescue Mission.

Being a faith-based facility, we are the perfect place for John. It gives him an opportunity to spend time with God in a safe environment that encourages a relationship with the Lord. Our guests might currently be without a home, but that’s not who they are. That is just their current situation. It may have felt to John at times during his 35 years living on the street, that being homeless was a permanent status. But, these are different times.

A final thought he left us with as the interview concluded is that “there is a blessing in everything.” There is a blessing in sleeping in the cold because it can inspire you to better yourself. There is a blessing in going hungry because it drives you to make changes in your behavior so that you don’t go through that again. And there is a blessing when you find a place to lay your head at night, even if it’s a temporary bed at the Gospel Rescue Mission, because instead of just finding food, clothing, and shelter, you’ve found hope, peace, and the love of Christ.

Categories
Guest Stories

Christy’s Story

“I’m just so lucky to be here,” she stated repeatedly during her Gospel Rescue Mission interview. She wasn’t lucky to be here at GRM. She meant lucky to be here. On earth. Alive and breathing. She had been close enough to Heaven’s door that she could nearly see the Pearly Gates, but Jesus wasn’t ready for her to come Home just yet. He had a chain of events that He wanted her to experience that would ultimately drive her to her greater purpose. These events would be difficult, at times more than she could bear. But He would be with her every step of the way, this much she knew. This is the story of Christy.

It was five years ago when she was diagnosed with a condition called diverticulitis. In most cases, diverticulitis is mild and something that can be easily managed. In Christy’s case, it was severe, debilitating, and life-threatening. She underwent several surgeries before her last, which nearly took her life. She flatlined seven times during that final surgery, but God had a better plan for Christy. A hundred staples later, she made it through, to the joy of her children and ailing husband. It was truly a miracle. This was just one part of her story though, so let’s start at the beginning.

Her husband, 31 years older than his petite wife Christy, enjoyed traveling. It was one of his greatest passions. They went on cruises and took several trips to Disney World, deep sea diving, and other incredible experiences that most of us could only dream of. He loved his family and wanted to give them the world. Owner of a lucrative water-treatment company, he had opened a few offices across the US, and when he decided to retire, he sold them, and they were able to travel even more. Health issues started to plague the sweet adventurous man though, and soon he was in the hospital battling for his life. He was a decorated Vietnam veteran who had received many accolades and awards to his credit for his service in the United States Air Force. So, when his health started to decline, he picked his favorite VA hospital in Fayetteville to handle his treatment.

It was around that time that Christy started experiencing health issues. Her medical expenses and surgeries proved bank-breaking, and eventually they had to make some difficult decisions about their financial and living arrangements. Because he was a veteran and would receive the best care at the facility there in Fayetteville, he remained put with family nearby to help care for him and the children. For Christy, her Native American heritage would help solve a lot of their financial burdens if she could be closer to tribal health care available in Tahlequah. Being from the small college town in Oklahoma, it was like coming home for her, and she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she still had many friends in the area. So, despite having to leave her family behind, she was looking forward to the future and the adventure that was in front of her. Despite all the positivity that the couple tried to look at in their situation, the inevitable can’t be stopped.

It was July 2020 when her dear husband took his last breath. Christy and the children were absolutely devastated. In the midst of her own health issues and her inability to travel because of it, the family wasn’t able to have the glorious Arlington Funeral with 21-gun salute that Christy and her husband had been planning for years. Because he was so much older than her, his passing was something that her and the children had discussed and had been mentally preparing for their whole lives together. What they hadn’t been planning was for Christy’s health crisis that came out of nowhere, draining their savings, and making her too unstable to travel far. The family decided to cremate him and wanted to do a more proper funeral once Christy’s health was more stable.

In the meantime, the friends that she had been able to house sit for while she was undergoing treatments eventually returned, and having nowhere else to go, and needing to be as close to Native American health care as she could, she resorted to come to Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee while she gets her and her late husband’s financial affairs in order. “I’m just so lucky to be here,” she said again. So grateful for a safe place to lay her head, and more importantly grateful for the air she is able to breath, and grateful for the life the Lord has given her. Christy is working towards getting better, getting her own apartment here, and getting her and her late husband’s benefits lined back out, so that she can one day live independently.

We want to take a moment to thank our donors, for helping to make Christy’s transition easier. While we do have many stories of the addicted or those that haven’t made the best life choices and are working on righting their wrongs, there are many people who find themselves temporarily without a home simply because of a snowball of unfortunate circumstances. If it weren’t for the generosity of those who give, people like Christy would be out on the streets right now, hungry, trying to keep their feet dry and their bodies warm as the cold rain pelts them, much like life has. It must feel so defeating. But here there is hope and direction and a sense of purpose here at GRM. And it’s because of our donors and sponsors that Christy has a warm safe place to lay her head. Thank you! You ARE making a difference!

If you would like to donate, donate at https://grmmuskogee.networkforgood.com/projects/78864-investing-in-life-change. If you would like to be a part of the action, volunteer! Contact Charolette at Charolette.sanders@grmmuskogee.org.

Categories
Guest Stories

“George’s” Story

Did you know that the state of Oklahoma holds the country’s second highest divorce rate? George, and a lot of our guests, are no strangers to this fact. Finding love seemed to be no challenge for George, it was the lasting love that he seemed to struggle with. He met the woman that he thought would be the love of his life, but after 5 years, the relationship went sour. While they were never officially married, she filed for a common-law divorce since they had lived together for over 5 years. The judge awarded the land and property to her, and he was out the door.

Quick to bounce back though, George worked hard to get back on his feet. His work experience was full of various skills: Heavy machine operator, certified welder, he even landed a high-paying desirous job working for Cadillac building car frames. It wasn’t long after that he got wind that his land had been sold. Back in a position where he could do something about it, he bought the land back from the new owner. Unfortunately, the love bug bit again, and he let a woman rent from him who refused to pay her part, and once again, the land was lost.

Feeling incapable of picking up the pieces for a heart-wrenching second time, he turned to drugs and eventually suicide to eliminate the constant stress and worry. Three rehabs and a stint to the Green Country Crisis Unit later, George found himself being driven to Gospel Rescue Mission by a Crisis Unit employee for orientation with us. Right away, he felt better and more at peace with himself.

A bull rider and rodeo roadie for his younger years, he’s banged up, but he’s still going strong. Broken bones didn’t stop him, divorce didn’t stop him, and addiction is definitely not stopping him either. While he’s on the job hunt for any kind of meaningful employment right now, his ultimate goal is to work on a ranch, out in the open air with the animals. That’s when he feels free. “I’m here,” he said confidently. “I’m trying to make a better life for myself.” He’s doing amazing at working our program, he’s realized some of his mistakes, and even when he moves on from us, he’ll be taking with him the love of his new GRM family and the loving spirit of God.

Categories
Guest Stories

James Story

As COVID-19 continues its warpath through the world, Gospel Rescue Mission has remained a safe haven for our guests and a place of comfort. For one guest, COVID-19 left his life in shambles, and we were the soft-landing place he needed so that he could sift through the rubble and start putting the pieces back together. So, what happened to James? Did he fall ill? Did he lose a family member to the destructive virus? No. In fact, James’s story has a whole new level of shock factor.

It was early March, one week before America came grinding to a panicked halt. James received a troubling call from a friend, and he knew he needed to be there as that person went through one of the worst experiences one could imagine: the sudden loss of their spouse. He could hear the pain in his friend’s voice and knew he had to help in any way that he could, so he took the next flight out to California, unaware of what was stirring up on the other side of the globe. What he thought would be his mission to help another would ultimately tear his life apart. 

A week after arriving in sunny California, mass-hysteria set in as news swept across the nation about the pandemic. Airports were cancelling flights, bus stations closed down, and trains weren’t taking passengers. Transportation, other than pricey rental cars, became non-existent. So, James buckled down for the long haul, happy to be with a friend in need and enjoying the vacation-style atmosphere of Cali. Its beachy palm trees made for a nice change of scenery, much different than the quiet plains of Oklahoma. Just as he was settling in though, his phone rang again. This time, the devastation was much closer to home.

His wife called with the news no husband ever wants to hear, especially when you are a thousand miles across country. “I have cancer,” she told him somberly. And with those three words, James’s life came tumbling down. He tried to catch a flight out, take a bus, anything, but with limited funds, and all inexpensive forms of transportation down for who knows how long, he was stuck. After a short time, he found a flight to Dallas, the closest he could get to his home in Tahlequah, and he jumped on it without hesitation. Upon arriving at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, he was quarantined for two weeks at the Arlington Event Center, having just arrived from a coronavirus hot spot. In the meantime, his wife was going to appointment after appointment receiving more bad news with every visit. Those two weeks seemed to be an eternity.

When his time in quarantine was up, he made a mad dash for the bus station, which was still operational in Texas. He went as far as the bus would take him, Muskogee, and that’s when things really started to unravel. His funds were completely depleted. His wife’s health had taken a turn for the worse; in just a matter of 3 weeks after her diagnosis, she was hospitalized, and the prognosis wasn’t good. With no income and his wife being in the hospital, the family home that they had been renting was needed by other family members, and they lost their home. He had no place to go back to and no money to get him to Tahlequah anyways. And with the hospital locked down due to COVID-19 and not accepting visitors, there was no point in trying to get there anyways. And that’s when he found Gospel Rescue Mission.

Since being here, James’s wife was transferred to OSU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, underwent two surgeries, and still has two more surgeries to go. While doctors are trying to be optimistic, the reality of the situation is that her health is uncertain. She was stable enough to be released after her surgeries, so she went to live with her son until they could get a place of their own and start rebuilding their lives. James recently found employment at a great job and is saving up to get their vehicle back and get a new place to call home.

We all know that God can work amazing miracles through the power of prayer. So, if you are reading this story, please take a moment to pray for them and for all the guests and staff at GRM. It’s a tough business to be on the receiving end and the giving end of life change, and COVID-19 hasn’t made it any easier. However, through prayers and the support of our volunteers and donors, the guests and staff at GRM will keep coming back with more stories of heartache turned to heartwarming stories of strength and resilience. Thanks for all your support!

Categories
Guest Stories

Roger’s Story

In a well-written letter, artfully crafted in beautiful cursive handwriting, Roger tells a friend that, “One of my greatest accomplishments in life has been, and still is, my sobriety.” He came in for our interview well-dressed in a pale blue polo shirt and nice khaki pants, hair long but well-groomed into a ponytail. In our brief interaction, he expressed concern for the health of one of our guests, compassion for the others who seem to be in a worse situation than himself, and his kindness and big heart was apparent within our seven minute conversation. Rather than telling me his story, he handed me this letter.

“Everything you need to know about my story is right here in this letter to my dearest friend and supporter,” he explained. We spoke for a short time, and it wasn’t until after he left that I began to read about this beautiful soul named Roger.

His new life began after he spent quite some time clinging to life, hooked up to a respirator because of his alcohol addiction. He had also used meth throughout the years, but that didn’t have a hold on him like alcohol did. He’s now been sober for well over 10 years, and he knows that its because of God that he no longer has the cravings or the taste for liquor. As I read over his words, I thought it was interesting that on a few occasions he referred to God as my God. His close relationship with the Lord came across loud and clear.

He addressed his friend, “You told me once, ‘Roger, you are made of a much finer metal than that and God has a far greater plan for you…’” While being here at the Gospel Rescue Mission, that plan didn’t seem to be very obvious to Roger, I could tell as I read his eloquent words, but the hope that he expressed throughout the four-page message was hard to miss. “I’m a good influence to the young and old…people have begun to gravitate toward me. It’s like magic in a way,” he wrote, very aware of how God was using him in the least likely of situations. “I do believe I’m an instrument of our God,” he mused.

As he concluded his letter, he gave one final thought. “Together, we can give away what has been given to me. Although I’m down, and some think broken, I have never felt so free. I feel good about the things to come.” It wasn’t but a few days after our interaction that Roger left GRM with family, and we pray that this was God guiding him to a new situation where he could be a light for others, just as he was praying for.

Categories
Guest Stories

Frank’s Story

The incredibly lucrative but highly competitive field of IT was the perfect type of work for Frank. Even just listening to the hum of a computer’s central processing unit allowed him to diagnose certain technical problems that others might miss. Working for a large tech company, he was very happy with the way that life was working out. It’s funny though how quickly things can go awry. Frank was about to learn just how quick.

It was called a company merger, but the reality was that it was a corporate takeover. The company that he had loved so much to work for was being bought out, and it wasn’t long before they started cutting jobs. Despite Frank’s incredible performance, the IT department took the brunt of the layoffs, and Frank was dismissed from his position. But that was just the beginning…

When his father passed away, he knew his mother was going to take it hard. Although he lived far away from his folks, he stayed in constant contact with his mother. Over the phone, everything seemed to be normal, but Frank could tell that she was going to need some extra support, and after having his dream job slip right through his fingers, it was time to move on anyways. When he returned home, however, he found that things were not as they seemed over the phone. A neighbor let him know that God must’ve been steering him home, because she was not doing well at all. Her dementia was taking a toll, and even the most simple tasks, like cooking, were starting to become far too challenging for her, requiring Frank to be home full-time and leave the work force entirely. Unfortunately, five years later at the age of 88, Frank’s mom also passed away.

Although he was now free to go back to work, finding a job in IT after having been out of the game for five years was pretty near impossible. That’s when Frank heard about a lower level position where he could work his way up from the bottom and possibly get into an IT position from there. Since they hardly ever hired IT techs from outside the company, this seemed like the most logical choice, plus it offered a phenomenal retirement package. It wasn’t long before he found himself back to work, although it wasn’t in IT, but he was happy just to be employed and staying busy. With the opportunity to have a great retirement, it made the work a lot easier. Work drama, however, was about to throw a kink in his retirement plans.

There was a lot that happened: he said/she said accusations, his car had been damaged by several mysterious hit-and-runs, a potential romance squashed by jealous co-workers, and a whirlwind of harassment toward Frank that ultimately resulted in legal proceedings and several terminations within the company. The whole fiasco even made the local news. Despite the stress and bullying at work, he still liked the actual job, the possibility of getting back into IT, and then there was still that retirement program that all would make the headaches worth going through. In what appeared to be a setup though, after the story came out and complaints against the company were filed that corroborated Frank’s story, he was suspiciously terminated. That’s what really began Frank’s financial troubles.

He tried to get back into the tech field, but having been out of it nearly a decade at this point, or a lifetime in technology years, he shuffled around from place to place finally landing in Muskogee, OK at Gospel Rescue Mission. Since the tech field is a challenge to re-enter after this long, he is hoping to get back into the same kind of entry level work he did before things went south at his last job, and he already has an interview in the works! He has an amazing attitude, a friendly and personable demeanor, and we are sure that with God’s blessings, Frank will land right back on his feet!

Categories
Guest Stories

Rebecca’s Story

With temperatures in Muskogee, Oklahoma falling below 0° in the winter and reaching highs over 110° in the heat of summer, it was no wonder that Rebecca decided to come to Gospel Rescue Mission after spending the last year living in her car. Piling herself with several blankets in the frigid cold and occasionally cranking on her heater when she had fuel in the tank, the winter was pretty rough on her, but not near as difficult as the summer would prove to be after a stint in the hospital battling multiple health conditions. But life wasn’t always this rough for Rebecca.

Click to read how healthcare and poverty are connected

She had a long-standing relationship with a guy she cared very deeply for. Although they had chosen not to live together anymore and both got their own apartment, they remained very close, even choosing to live in the same apartment complex. While her health kept her from being able to work consistently, her creativity and knack for crafts helped her support herself. She could take just about anything and make it beautiful, but her specialty was dream catchers. From old metal plant holders to broken lamp shades, she could weave the most intricate dream catchers out of all kinds of things. “I’ve always tried to look at things from outside the box,” she told us as she reminisced about her designs. Unfortunately, even her best hand-crafted dream catchers wouldn’t be able to stop her worst nightmare from coming true.

Her boyfriend’s health was quickly deteriorating after a stroke left him physically unable to care for himself, so Rebecca stepped in to help. It wasn’t long though before the stroke took its final toll on him, and he passed away, leaving Rebecca alone, without a home, and without any income. She had a few things of her own, and she had a vehicle, so determined to make it work, she set out to live in her car for as long as she could manage. Her inability to work though put her at an extreme disadvantage. She had a van, but no money for fuel. She sold what little she had to try to keep herself afloat, but it was very challenging. The oncoming winter months and frigid temperatures didn’t help either.

Just when she thought she couldn’t handle anymore, she wound up in the hospital fighting for her life against the deadly disease, MRSA. When she came out of the hospital, her body wasn’t the same. The cold temps of winter that she had barely been able to stand were giving way to warm hot days that were absolutely unbearable in her condition. Having had to stay at GRM once before a long time ago, she knew she had a safe place to hunker down until she could get back on track, so after being released from the hospital, she came here.

It wasn’t too long after checking in that she ended up back in the hospital for a few more days, but the last two weeks have been going pretty well for her. She is unable to work a full-time job and without any government assistance, she is in a tough place. That hasn’t got her spirits down though. Her plan is to get back into selling her dream catchers and to apply for housing while she is waiting for her social security benefits to kick in. She still has a long road ahead of her, but for now, her health is doing better, she’s in a safe place shielded from the heat of summer, and she still has a dream to chase.

Categories
Guest Stories

Kenneth’s Story:

What was your mind set when you were 12 years old? Were you a little rebellious? Or were you a good kid? Or maybe a good kid stuck in a bad situation? The latter is where Kenneth found himself. His mother treated him very poorly, but at that age and with no one else to turn to or go to for advice, he made the only decision that he felt he could—he ran away. In the city where he lived in Kentucky, there was an expansive dump yard; the perfect place for a 12-year-old to live unnoticed by authorities who might either drag him back to his parents or to an even worse situation in foster care. In his mind, this was the best choice. So, he lived in the city dump, on his own and fending for himself as just a child for two entire years, that is until he was found and then placed into his worst case scenario—foster care—at age 14.

Just as he had expected though, his bad situation with his parents was a picnic compared to the abuse he suffered in foster care. In those days, foster care wasn’t as well monitored as it these days, and his mistreatment went on undiscovered until a phone conversation with his older sister promised a brighter future for him, and he was allowed to live with her and her husband. At long last, he was able to relax and just be a kid, at least for a short while. It wasn’t long before his childhood was officially over, and he needed to find employment at age 16. He went to work for a big company, and as his changing luck would have it, it was a great job with great pay. He eventually moved to Oklahoma and enlisted in the Army where he served for three years. It was during this time that he met a woman. He didn’t know it then, but she would change his entire world.

They got married, had a baby boy, and then the pressure was on to provide for his new family. He was really struggling to find a job in the civilian world, and relationships with the wrong kind of people led him to become a drug dealer, even though he never did drugs himself. About a year later, things changed though, and Kenneth landed a good job as a supervisor in a nursing home, then eventually working in a poultry plant. They moved around a bit before settling down in Idabel where he worked for 11 years at the same job without missing a single day of work. Despite his success in work, at home, things were falling apart.

His wife was very abusive, not just physically but mentally as well. On average, an Oklahoman dies every five days due to domestic violence, and although statistics reflect that these are often women, more and more men are coming forward with stories of being a victim of domestic abuse. For Kenneth, it was becoming more than he could handle, and after his wife told him she wished he would kill himself, he attempted to take his own life. When paramedics arrived, it was touch-and-go, and he flatlined on them, but fortunately, they were able to bring him back. Kenneth had narrowly escaped death, and with his new lease on life, he left his wife and moved to Muskogee, where he could be closer to the VA hospital.

On his own and in his own apartment for one of the first times in his life, Kenneth thought he had a fresh start, but his living situation was getting out of control with rowdy neighbors and other things making it so unbearable, he would rather be on the street than continue to stay where he was. And that’s when he came to Gospel Rescue Mission. Currently, he’s serving on our Work Start Program on the hospitality and custodial tract, while he’s actively seeking employment. He’s hoping to get a job and then save for an apartment.

Kenneth is now working toward a brighter future, but no doubt the scars of domestic abuse have left their mark. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse and needs help to get out of their current situation, please don’t hesitate to make that call and get help. Contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at https://www.thehotline.org/ to chat without voice or call 1-800-799-7233.

Categories
Guest Stories

Jodi’s Story

One conversation with Jodi, and you’ll know that she has the sweetest soul. She is kind, she goes out of her way to help others, and she loves God. We wish that was all there was to tell about Jodi, but unfortunately, a brain injury from being hit in the head with a glass ash tray in her 20’s left her suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that have made her life very challenging. Although Jodi receives disability benefits, it’s barely enough to live on, and as we find with many of our guests who are on disability, one small misstep or financial set back can quickly send you on a path to homelessness.

That’s when she found us. Jodi’s financial issues didn’t stem from car troubles or built up fines or anything like that. It’s because she has such a giving and generous heart. She is so eager to help others that she would give someone the shirt off her back to help a person out. Often, she found herself getting taken advantage of by friends because of her generosity, and that complicated some of her closest relationships. Aside from just the people that she was closest to, Jodi had a deep and caring love for feeding the children of Africa. Unable to balance her desire to help others and her necessity to take care of herself, she found that a good portion of her money was going towards the charities that fed starving children. Eventually, she was forced out of her friend’s home and found her way to GRM. Even here, she is so caring and compassionate that just recently, she saw someone digging out of a trashcan for food, so she went to the store, spending her own money, to buy the person something to eat.

One of the things Jodi struggled with most when she first came to us was getting her medications right. With the right doctor, she was able to get her medications and dosages corrected and that really helped her to balance herself. Her former medication cocktail drove her mad from insomnia to the point that she was suicidal. Under her new medication plan, although she still struggles with confidence, she is bright and shining and has a new lease on life!

She is also mending fences and rebuilding relationships with her daughter who has stayed in very close contact with Jodi. The difference in her life is so clear to those who know Jodi best. She is becoming more independent from her position on the Work Start Program, and she is very proud of her progress there and in her dorm. So proud in fact, that she has realized that she is capable of working, something she never thought she would be able to do. Housekeeping seems to be her niche, and she keeps her areas sparkling clean!

It is apparent to everyone the difference that God is making in Jodi’s life. With her medications in order, her bond with her daughter restored, and the exciting news that she is approved for housing, we are sad, but so so glad that Jodi won’t be with us much longer. Soon she’ll be in a place of her own, and with the tools she got while she was here plus a great support system in her daughter, we are sure Jodi will be doing awesome on her own!

Categories
Guest Stories

Travis’s Story

When mistakes start piling up and go unresolved, they can turn into big problems. For Travis, unpaid fines turned into a possible prison sentence, but the kind heart of a judge made all the difference when he was sentenced to a work release program instead. A work release program is where you are required to have a job, and the pay that you receive for that job goes back to the program that you are in as payment for your room and board. Unfortunately, the place he lived in considered one of his depression medications to be against their policy for accepted prescriptions, so he had to go off of his regular medication. It was challenging at first, keeping everything together without his depression medication, but through hard work and patience, he graduated the program. Upon graduating the work release program, he was able to keep his paychecks, so this was a welcome change, because when he was arrested, he had lost custody of his 12-year-old daughter. The money he was able to now start saving would help him to get back on stable ground and get his daughter back.

He was unable to stay in the program though, so he came to Gospel Rescue Mission. Since his job was tied to that facility, he is having to start from the ground up. Although he doesn’t have a GED or diploma, Travis’s work history is quite impressive. With experience driving forklifts, assembly line work, factory work, and kitchen supervisor all under his belt, we have hopes that it won’t be long before Travis is able to get back to work and get back to life with his daughter. In the meantime, he is brushing up on his customer service skills as a member of our Work Start Program on the Hospitality tract and also volunteering in our kitchen.