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“I came here with only a thread of hope.”
Elizabeth’s voice rings out in the chapel foyer as she accepts her Road to Success completion certificate.  “Now, I have great expectations. Expectations of being challenged, and of what God can do.”
Two weeks ago, we concluded our most recent Road to Success employment workshop. This workshop always concludes with a very special ceremony recognizing each person that has completed the workshop and will be moving into the final job search phase of the program. This particular ceremony was special in a new way – it was our largest group of job seekers yet! Twenty-seven individuals completed the week-long, intensive employment workshop and are now seeking employment as the final phase of transitioning back to a self-sufficient life.
It is always a joy to witness this special event, as formerly homeless, addicted, abused, and broken people stand  to receive a certificate honoring their hard work and persistence. Family members, friends, and partners from the community stand united in their support of these people who have worked so hard to transform their lives. This is why we do what we do – not only to offer people food, shelter, and safety, but ultimately to offer them hope and the belief they can now live changed and self-sufficient lives.
We watched as mothers cried, sharing about how they now have the chance to provide for their children. As  people spoke of freedom from their addiction. As families looked eagerly towards a bright future, instead of back at a painful past. And each person, like Elizabeth, noted that they now have confidence, self-esteem, and hope that they did not have when they first arrived at the Rescue Mission.
When the residents of the Rescue Mission walk through our gates for the first time, each person has their photo taken. Practically speaking, this photo is used for their ID badge while living here, but it becomes a metaphor for so much more. This photo shows someone who is hopeless, lost, and broken.  It shows someone who believes they have nothing to offer and nowhere to go.
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At the end of the Road to Success workshop, again their photo is taken. Now, they are dressed in their business attire and their confidence shines through, in stark contrast to the photo taken of them on their first day here.  It is a visual representation of the growth and  transformation that has taken place in their lives since their arrival to the Rescue Mission. The difference is so clear – their new photo shows an individual full of joy and newfound self-confidence. It shows someone who has worked hard to continue through this program, and is now aware that they do have something to offer. There is renewed purpose visible on their faces, as they now feel equipped to face the future.
I would like to address the employers who may be reading this – if you are looking to hire, please consider the Rescue Mission residents. These individuals have proven themselves to be hardworking  and committed to excellence. With renewed purpose, they eagerly face new challenges and are grateful for each opportunity. Please contact our Success Center Manager, Joey, at (714) 247-4370 or joey.gonzalez@rescuemission.org. for more information.


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