Brenda has been through some tough times in her life. But in the middle of 2019, she hit rock bottom. Brenda worked as a server for 35 years, the last 17 primarily in the San Fernando Valley. She was working six days a week to provide for her 13-year-old son and 21-year-old pregnant daughter. Things were tight, but they were making ends meet, when she was cut to just two shifts per week.
The paperwork was filed for their eviction and they were waiting for a court date. “I was at my lowest,” Brenda said. “You feel like a failure when you’re losing your apartment. You have no (work) hours. It’s hard to feed your children and they want things and you can’t afford to pay for them.” But they never got that court date. A friend told her about the mission. Brenda called, got an intake interview, and was accepted. “We stuck everything in storage and we moved in,” she said.
At first, Brenda and her family found it hard to adjust. “It was overwhelming,” she said. “I was happy we had a roof over our head, (but it was) overwhelming. Then you have these rules and you kind of feel like you’re moving into your parents’ home. (It’s hard because) you’re used to, you know, being on your own.”
The kids had a period of adjustment too. “(They were) used to, ‘Mom, go get me something to eat,’ and it’s like, ‘No, you eat what’s here. You go to sleep when the lights are out at 9.’ And that was hard for them.
“But with time… you fight it for a little while. But once you get adjusted, you realize, ‘I can do this.’ Moving in here with everybody, the people were warm and they made us feel like family, where before, we were all alone and at our lowest. And now it’s like, ‘You know, we’re here for you.’
“How we got here is different, but we’re here for each other and we became friends. And it does help. You’re all one big happy family. It’s encouraging. And you communicate and you help each other and you say, ‘Hey, you know, we can get through this,’ and then your kids do adjust because there’s other kids to play with. It’s such a big, big home. So it’s wonderful. And then when you do need to get a job, they have the resources here where all you have to do is go and show up and just sell yourself as you would any other job. They have the computers. They have everything that you need. And it’s just really wonderful. They gave me the confidence to go out and do it.”
Brenda feels like she was meant to come to the mission. “God put me here,” she said. “I was put here for a reason. The staff here is wonderful. I mean, they encourage you, they help you. They let you know you’re not in this alone. They help you through it. I mean, I fought it. And then it clicked. So it works. If you believe and you have faith, you’ll get through it.”
Brenda began to cry softly when asked what the best thing that has happened since she’s been at the mission. “Walking in these doors … it was the best decision we made,” she said.