(Post is from a Family Rescue Ministry email)
Leia had a team of 14 people surrounding her, ready to help at a moment’s notice. They have adopted her into their church family, and she finally has support.
For three months last fall, Leia and her two children moved from home to home, borrowing space on couches or beds from friends. She’d left a dangerous situation involving domestic violence during the summer and was doing her best to provide a safe space for her kids.
“It was really frustrating, and we were living with people and in circumstances that weren’t healthy. They deserved better. I felt really stuck and scared. I felt like a mother bear with her cubs. I was very defensive. My number one goal was to protect my children. I didn’t like the instincts that were coming out,” she says, her face furrowed remembering those difficult emotions.
She continues, speaking her next sentences with tears: “I felt scared and disappointed that my children were in that place. If I had made different choices maybe we could have prevented it.”
Leia fought through her disappointment and was calling every resource she could find: more friends, transitional housing places, homeless shelters – but no one had space available. She needed help. Immediately.
Finally, in September, she decided to make one last call and it was to Family Rescue Ministry. They did an interview and approved her in the first phone call. Leia remembers that conversation: “I spoke with Derek – he is amazing. I was nervous about asking for help but he was really welcoming. I wasn’t uncomfortable with him – I felt like he genuinely was going to help me.” And he did. Within weeks, she was matched with a mentor team.
She met with a group from Bear Creek Evangelical Church in October. The group consists of almost 15 people, all from different stages in life and who come bearing unique skill sets. They lovingly refer to their group as CAYA – Come As You Are. It was a perfect fit. “I remember meeting Leia that first time, getting coffee at Panera. We just fell in love with her,” says Marjorie, one of Leia’s many mentors.
The feeling was mutual. “The mentors were very excited to meet me and learn about me instead of pushing me and making me uncomfortable. They really just let me know what they would be able to help me with. They made themselves available,” says Leia. Last year, she lost her grandmother, who meant everything to her. She breaks into tears again while talking about her: “My grandma raised me, and things have been hard since she passed. She had been my support system my whole life. But Ann [another CAYA mentor] reminded me of my grandma a lot.”
Her mentors became her new support group, enveloping her with love. “The biggest benefit of having mentors is having new family and a new church. I love the feeling that I have somewhere to go to pray now. I have a whole new group of people to talk to about God and about life. The mentors invite me to everything, and it’s nice to have positive things to go to and get out of the house,” says Leia.
The group offers so much, from relationship advice to job searching to home furnishing. Marjorie explains, “I can’t imagine not mentoring. It helps you identify your own gifts and gives you the desire to share that with someone else. It could be just loving, or finances, or counseling, or being a friend. I think you get a greater blessing—you’ll receive far more than you’ll ever give.” She also sees the benefit in mentoring as a group: “In a group, it’s healthy to take their eyes off of just themselves and help somebody else. It’s healthy to be thankful, and to be truly thankful, you need to share what you have with someone else.”
Leia moved into her home at the beginning of December. They are only halfway done with their mentoring sessions, but she is already adopted into the CAYA community, coming to church and parties almost weekly. “Before, if I had a question or was struggling, I would feel lost…I didn’t have any idea what to do. But now, I have someone I can talk to and ask questions to, and get advice from. It’s empowering and motivates me to conquer personal battles every day,” says Leia with a smile.
Marjorie nods her head as Leia is speaking, and closes their meeting with affirmation: “I think this woman has got an incredible amount of talent and wisdom and knowledge. As difficult as it is to work and have kids, I think she is very focused, and I see success in so many areas of her life. There is a lot of energy and focus and power here. She’s going somewhere.”
Thank you to everyone who diligently serves as a mentor! If you or your congregation would like to join Family Rescue Ministry in its fight to end homelessness in our community by mentoring, please visit DenverRescueMission.org/familyrescueministry.
Your donation today to support Family Rescue Ministry will help working families, who are homeless, secure stable housing.