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The Orange County Rescue Mission is unique in many ways.  For one, we are first and foremost a ministry with a love for Jesus Christ and a desire to share His love and truth for the restoration of others. Because of this, our staff desires to not just help others, but to grow in relationship with them. I am continually encouraged and impressed by our staff, and so thankful that the Lord has brought each individual to our team, with their own unique talents, gifts, skills, and passions.

One such  individual is Donna Giddings, who has been the House Parent of Laurel House for 20 years. We recently celebrated her 20 year employment anniversary. This is an amazing accomplishment in this challenging field of work.

Donna and her husband Steve are our Laurel House house parents, and have lived in the Laurel House home for 20 years. Their love, patience, compassion, and guidance is a support to the many girls that arrive at their doorstep lost, hurt, and afraid. For many of these girls, they have never had a healthy family environment, or seen a happy marriage. Donna and Steve play an instrumental role as models of a healthy family.  She and Steve have one son, Ryan, who also grew up in the Laurel House. Can you imagine growing up with that many “sisters”? But this family had a call on their lives from God, and knew that this was an opportunity to care for His children. This a duty they do not take lightly, and they carry it out joyfully.

But a 24/7, live-in ministry position can understandably sound daunting. Donna tells us about her interview experience and initial emotions: “We interviewed over Thanksgiving with the board of Laurel House. My first reaction after interviewing and touring at 25 years old, was ‘no’. I was worried that I was not able to handle what these girls were going through. I was so innocent, but God put it on our hearts, and we ultimately said yes. I did not know at the time that I accepted the position, but they were going to shut the doors if I did not accept it. Until us, they had not found anyone who would be willing to be this hands-on. They had looked for so long.”

Shortly after starting her position as House Parent, Donna felt the confirmation from the Lord that she was in the right place. Donna says, “God made it clear that Laurel House was designed for my life. I was abused as a child, and went through therapy for the abuse. So that I can tell my girls to trust going in to counseling and to trust therapy. It can heal you. I believe that I cannot expect things from these girls that I cannot expect for myself.”

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Life at Laurel House is not without its challenges, and Donna notes that letting the girls go is the hardest part of her job. She invests her heart in each girl, and when they leave, it feels as though a part of herself goes with them. Ultimately her love for the Lord motivates her to continue on, even in the most difficult times.

Donna tells us how she has grown over the past 20 years as a House Parent:  “I went from this innocent girl, to eyes open to the pain and hurt of the world. I used to believe that everyone loved Jesus, but I came to this home where girls hated Him because they did not understand his love. But now I see the pain in the world, and the knowledge that people need Him more than anything. We are missionaries for these girls.”

Donna’s bright personality, radiant joy, and abundant compassion for others brings light and happiness everywhere she goes. She has made an indescribable impact on the Laurel House program and the Rescue Mission family. Because of her dedication and service, hundreds of teen girls are now living renewed and restored lives. We are so thankful for Donna and Steve, and that the Lord led them to Laurel House all those years ago.
Thank you Donna and Steve!


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