She returned after interning at the Mission in college
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” —Psalm 82:3
This verse drives Denise’s mission and purpose in life.
Denise’s parents divorced when she was younger, and she spent most of her time navigating the effects of the split. “I grew up in the court system,” she said. “I went back and forth between my parents. It was a broken home.” During court ordered visits, Denise suffered physical, emotional, and verbal abuse by her father.
Fortunately, Denise was able to move in with her mom during high school. “It was my way of seeking refuge. My way of seeking shelter as a teenager. I needed to get out of the toxic environment my dad created,” she said.
When Denise attended college and began her own journey, she knew God had called her to help people. She graduated from California State University, Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in General Sociology and Psalm 82:3 proudly engraved on her sash. “Growing up the way I grew up, feeling helpless as a child, as a teenager, everything I endured… I knew I wanted to pour that out and help people in need. I’ve always had a passion and heart for people.”
Denise joined the Rescue Mission Alliance San Fernando Valley team in April 2023 as a Case Manager. But this isn’t her first time at the Mission! As part of her degree requirements, Denise needed to complete an internship, and after careful research and prayer, God led her to the Mission’s family shelter. “I asked Him to just put me where He wanted me,” she said. “And this was the place.”
After watching a testimonial video, Denise knew it was perfect for her. “I couldn’t believe it! This place is a hidden gem. It goes with my faith and gives an opportunity to help people using that faith.” Denise interned for four months, and although she loved the work, she never thought she would return.
When Denise graduated and began to look for meaningful employment, she trusted God had a plan. “The Mission was on my heart and mind,” she said. “The exact same day I went back to the website to see if there were any job openings, they posted the case manager position… I always saw myself speaking one-on-one with people about their circumstances and helping them through it. I just knew it was the right place.”
Denise’s favorite part of her job is meeting, praying, and uplifting families who are going through hard times. “When they leave my office feeling better, lifted up, and ready to tackle what needs to be tackled, when they can be vulnerable enough with me, there’s no better feeling,” she said.
While at the Mission, Denise loves to spend time with the community – and encourages those struggling to join them. “I love meeting face to face with the homeless community,” she said. “I love hearing people’s stories. It’s so amazing I get to meet people and invest back into them. It aligns with what God has taught me about faith: True religion is giving back to the community.
“I pray people take advantage of the community here that unconditionally loves them. There’s a lot of people here full of love.”
Denise is a new case manager at the Mission’s family shelter.