April is honest about the challenges she faced growing up. “My mom was on welfare and we were in Section 8 housing,” she said. “My dad worked under the table, and my mom, I never really saw her have a job. There were drugs and alcohol within both of my parents. The situation was low income and no future.”
April’s parents lost their place when she was in eighth grade, and her dad left the family at that time, moving to Las Vegas with his brother. April has two brothers—one was in prison from when he was 16 years old until he was 28, and then returned there shortly after his release. She and her other brother went with their mom to live at grandma’s, and when that didn’t work out, tried staying with an aunt. When April’s mom went into a program for her addiction, April returned to her grandma’s house. “I was there with my brother and two cousins—all boys,” she said.
It was during that time that April’s grandmother started taking her to church. “She made me go, and I went just because I didn’t want to hear about it from her,” April said, laughing. “But I ended up liking it. I remember getting up early, all on my own, to go to church with her. That was a big step. I ended up accepting God during that time.”
April graduated from high school, and when her mom got out of her recovery program and got her own place, April went with her. “My brother didn’t come,” April said. “By then, he was in the streets too deep. He became a gang member.”
April had her first daughter at 19 and had her own apartment for four years. But during that time, when she was 22, April got into drugs—methamphetamine. Her brother was also hooked on it, and died when he was 27 of congestive heart failure due to the drug. “I stopped when I was 25, but I still battled sobriety on and off,” April said. “I had another daughter, and the day before my brother’s funeral, the Department of Children and Family Services showed up and took my kids.”
April got her daughters back, and entered a program. She had them both for nearly a year. But after a relapse, she lost them again. “They’ve been gone for a year now,” said April, now 27.
April has unmonitored visits with her 3-year-old, and is due in court soon to try to reestablish reunification with her oldest, who is 7. She has been completely sober for over one year now. She was working for a temp agency, but when she didn’t get another assignment, April had trouble finding housing. Now, she’s at the mission, saving up for her own place, and working as an Access-A-Ride driver for people with disabilities in Los Angeles County. “I adapt well anywhere I go,” she said. “The mission is a safe, clean shelter—I couldn’t find another place like this if I tried. It would be nice to be closer to my job, but I like it here. I like the staff. They are nice and friendly and accommodate you wherever they can—if you need something, they will make it happen.”
While April works a lot of hours, and mostly just eats, sleeps and showers at the mission, she’s been thankful that the program is Christian-based. “I went to a bible study, and the story and the instructor really kept me thinking,” she said. “I learned more about his word, how God actually works, and how it can apply to what he can really do for you. To learn more about what God does for us, it’s really nice. I’m glad I’m here. I just need stability, and I’m getting that here.”