Everyone, on some level, experiences the temptation to “run away” from their problems. Many of us have tried, only to learn the hard way that our problems cannot be outrun. This is an important concept to the Rescue Mission philosophy. I have always made it a priority not to offer band-aid solutions in the form of a handout, but a hand-up that paves the way for a truly healthy and self-sufficient life, free from old burdens.
Aja is a wonderful example of the Rescue Mission’s hand-up philosophy come to life. Once enslaved to her past, she has now found the help and support she needs to be freed from those old wounds and walk confidently in new life.
Please read on and be inspired by Aja’s story.
This is Aja’s story.
In Aja’s teenage mind, running away was the best way to solve her problems. It was an adventure, escaping from her small Alaskan town, and it became her first experience with homelessness.
Escaping became her coping mechanism. Running away, self-harm, and a dependency on having a relationship with a man who would make her feel special until the abuse would begin, became Aja’s way of life.
But deep down within her soul, Aja knew there was something better, that God created her not for self-destruction and pain, but for beauty. Risking retaliation from her abuser, Aja and her young daughter fled to a Christian ranch program in Oregon that supported people who were struggling. There she began to heal and become stable.
Two years later, she was ready to start a new life. Aja came to Orange County and soon landed a good job and a small apartment for her and her daughter.
The elation of providing for herself and living in safety quickly came crashing down. Her income was not enough to pay the bills and provide food. Aja began going without so her daughter could eat. Rent was due, and she could not pay it in full. The arrival of an eviction notice sent her mind racing, with seemingly nowhere to turn but the streets.
The suffocating despair and failure began to invade her again. But Aja had become a strong and determined woman. She would not slip back to her old ways, and end up living on the streets with her daughter.
Instead, she found Village of Hope at Orange County Rescue Mission. Aja describes Village of Hope as “a place to learn how to live life right, but with a safety net.” Time with her case manager, life skills classes, voluntary work assignments, Bible study, and the support of new friends have all helped Aja to grow and develop the mind set and skills to become self-sufficient. Her daughter has been attending a good school and is involved in healthy activities.
Most importantly, Aja’s relationship with God has flourished. A love and sensitivity for others has grown into abilities to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others, without neglecting herself and having healthy boundaries.
Today, she has achieved the goal of working to help others. Aja is employed full-time in non-profit work, and is on the path to self-sufficiency.
Thank you for giving hurting people, like Aja, real hope to start again, free from the pain and bondage of the past. Because of you, lives are being restored.
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