My name is Leah, I’m 37 and Kelowna’s Gospel Mission kept me alive.
My mom separated from my dad when I was only five. She worked hard to provide for me, but I think she was relieved when she met my stepfather.
If only she’d known my stepfather couldn’t be trusted around children.
My stepfather abused me for years, and he made me feel like I was at fault. Now, I know that wasn’t true—but at the time, I felt incredibly alone.
I was 11 when he started abusing my best friend, and I finally told someone about the years of abuse. Finally, that part of my nightmare was over.
Afterwards, I received counselling, but nothing dampened the pain. I started skipping school, drinking and experimenting with drugs, trying to escape reality.
My relationship with my mom was strained. She tried the best she could to guide me but I was rebellious at home. Unable to cope with the growing tensions, I left. Without a job or anywhere to go, I ended up on the streets.
This was when I first met JoAnne, an outreach worker at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. She was my lifeline. “Jesus loves you Leah, there’s nothing that could stop him from loving you,” JoAnne used to tell me.
“Kelowna’s Gospel Mission gave me hope when all I could feel was despair. They saved my life and gave me a future.”—Leah
When you live outside, you never feel safe and you have to sleep with one eye open. I’ve been beaten, burnt and held hostage—all when I was homeless.
After brushing death one too many times, I thought, “if you don’t get clean, you’ll die.”
All I wanted was a normal life, so I cried out to God, asking for help.
JoAnne introduced me to Kelowna’s Gospel Mission’s services. I started going for meals, then to do laundry or take a shower, and sometimes I’d stop by just to talk with the staff who were always ready to listen.
One time, JoAnne invited me to the Easter Dinner. I stepped into the room and was overwhelmed by the wonderful smells of turkey dinner and the beautiful decorations. It reminded me of home. Despite everything, I always felt better when I was eating a home-cooked meal at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission—somehow those meals would make me feel hopeful.
JoAnne connected me to the right programs at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, and I finally got clean. Today, I’ve been sober for five years, and I have a little boy of my own. Without help from Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, I never would have made it out of that life. That’s why I’m now a frontline worker with Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, helping people experiencing homelessness reclaim their futures.
Kelowna’s Gospel Mission gave me hope when all I could feel was despair. They saved my life and gave me a future. Thank you for supporting life-changing work at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. You’re giving people a second chance!
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