Some of the most encouraging stories I hear about Orange County Rescue Mission students are about those students that give back. When someone has had a second chance in life, many in turn help others. It becomes a way of life for them to give.
One such student is Chantel.
When it came to family, Chantel didn’t know the true meaning of the word. Her dad overdosed on drugs when she was a young girl and Chantel was left with other people while her mom went to work. Eventually Chantel had kids of her own. She was the sole breadwinner for 11 years, while her boyfriend threw money away. “I was scared for my kids to go through the same hardship I did,” Chantel says. “Being stuck with other people. I didn’t want that for my kids. I want them to be surrounded by family all the time.”
But Chantel’s relationship wasn’t getting any better. Her boyfriend became abusive and continued to lose all their money. The family was struggling to get by. Deep in depression and hooked on pills prescribed for an injury, Chantel nearly took her own life . . . “I got on my knees to pray because I couldn’t let my kids see me like that,” Chantel remembers. “Then, on my phone I found Orange County Rescue Mission.”
At the Mission, Chantel and her kids have clothes and meals, and a roof over their heads. Now she has discovered what has been missing all of her life — stability, safe refuge and a sense of belonging.Today, Chantel volunteers at the Concordia Learning Center, working with children whose parents are going through the Mission’s programs.“Kids [are] coming here broken. They’re also hurting.”
Because her life was restored, Chantel wants kids at the Mission to get what she did not have as a child: structure, affirmation, guidance. Chantel says she wants to “give back what this place has given to me, which is my life and my family. I don’t have to be in a chaotic environment. My kids don’t have to see what they shouldn’t see at a young age.” Chantel and her kids found stability, and now Chantel helps kids in her care feel valued and safe.