A year and a half after leaving the mission, Cindi and her daughters are firmly planted in their new life. “It is such a good program,” she said. “They did so much for us. It was truly life changing.”
Cindi grew up in the Valley with her mom and brother. “My dad wasn’t really a good person,” she said. “He wasn’t in the picture, unless there was something in it for him. It was hard, just the three of us. It seemed like nothing really panned out for us. But we were a unit. That was our family.”
When Cindi was 18, her mom was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. “At the time I had just started dating my ex and there was a lot of bad blood in the family because of him,” she said. “My mom’s illness was really fast. I got pregnant, and I gave birth a month before my mom passed away. Everything was really bad. My brother didn’t want to talk to me because I was with him. I got stuck in that relationship.”
Cindi was the victim of domestic violence. “I can tell you sincerely that I was that person that did anything and everything for him, so I never understood why he treated me like that,” she said.
Three months after Cindi had her second daughter with him, he left out of state. She got a job at Home Depot, but quit when her grandmother needed more care. “A month later, she fell, broke her hip, and passed away,” she said. “It was awful. And that left me without a job.”
To make matters worse, Cindi’s ex came back into the picture. “He had gotten into drugs and was really violent. It was psychotic behavior. I just tried to get as far away from him as I could.” She relocated to San Jacinto, and then rented a place in Tijuana she could afford. She crossed the border daily to take her kids to school. But eventually Cindi said he wore her down, begging her to come back, promising her a house and financial help. “It didn’t even last three days and I was homeless again.”
Cindi had been getting therapy from a domestic violence counselor who encouraged her to check out the shelter. They moved in in early 2017. “I really appreciated that they asked me in-depth questions, to really see what I needed. One of my issues is anxiety because of all the domestic violence I’ve experienced. They bring in people to talk to you one-on-one. And we have parent’s groups and women’s groups. Sometimes you’re just really tired and grumpy, but after, you always feel better. People will be singing, and the next thing you know you’re crying, or you start getting happy, or it’s taking away some of the stress. I was raised Christian, and I believe in God, but I wasn’t really practicing it. It was very refreshing to have that here.”
Cindi’s daughters, now 8 and 10, adapted well too. “They liked it because they had kids to play with,” she said. “They had therapy. They had extra help. They liked all the activities.”
Cindi found a four-bedroom apartment, and she and another woman from the shelter share the rent. They both have two daughters and younger brothers who live with them. “We have similar personalities, so sometimes we bump heads, like anybody,” Cindi said, laughing. “But at the end of the day, the bigger picture is that we are all in a stable home and we have everything we need.
Cindi got emotional talking about the impact the mission had on her family. “In my life, I’d always watch these TV shows where people would have these amazing things happen to them. I really felt like that here,” she said, tearing up. “I really did. They did a lot. They are amazing.
I have a strong personality. Not everyone can actually figure it out, or actually like me. I feel like they get me. They understand me. And they actually care.”