“The Mission gave me the opportunity to study and access to a computer lab so that I could finish my assignments on time—that's how they helped me. If I had been anywhere else, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
But imagine being a homeless,
middle-aged woman who never finished high school, working hard
to go to college for the first time.
That’s Leslie’s experience.
However, that’s not where her story begins. “I grew up with an absent father, and my mother wasn't very loving to me. … She basically took me out of school,” Leslie says, explaining how she dropped out
of high school before she was 16
and got a job at a restaurant on Federal Boulevard.
One day, a co-worker invited Leslie
to come shopping with her. She agreed, but did not tell her mother. When her mother found out, she was angry. “I went to pick up my check, and my mom just dropped me off,” Leslie explains. “When I came back outside, she was gone. I finally got in touch with her, but she said, ‘Well, you made your plans, so you just go ahead and stay there.’ I didn't know where I was going to stay that night, and I didn't have any of my clothes.”
Homeless and alone at just 16 years old, Leslie was scared. But thankfully, her assistant manager and his wife opened their home to her. A year later, she reconnected with a childhood friend. They had three children together before their relationship fell apart, and when they separated, he took the children.
“I was devastated. I started drinking and eventually started using drugs,” she says. “That's when I first started getting into trouble with the law.”
For the next several years, she was in and out of jail repeatedly. “It was just a life of destruction,” she explains.
In 1993, she met a man whom she later married. “We were homeless and living a drug-ridden life,” she says. Together with her husband, she continued to struggle, including experiencing a brief battle with breast cancer at 37 years old.
“Everybody was sick of me,” she explains. “I was sick of myself. I
told God I didn't even want to live and that he would have to show
me that he was real.” Desperate
and looking for help, Leslie and
her husband finally found the
STAR Transitional Program
at The Crossing.
When they first came to the Mission, Leslie found a job just a few blocks away, but the intense work became difficult. “Being in my forties, I was exhausted after 10-hour days of hard labor. Our bodies would hurt so much,” she explains. “So when a friend suggested we go to school,
I decided to go for it.”
Although she dropped out of
high school, Leslie had earned
her GED in prison, so she applied to Community College of Denver and started taking 14 credit hours in August 2007.
“I really enjoyed it,” she says smiling, “and I had a 4.0 GPA.” At first, she wanted to take classes in healthcare, remembering
how it felt to be a breast cancer survivor, but she settled on an Associate's Degree in Human Services, and graduated
“It was hard,
but I loved reading and doing my homework,” she says. “The Mission gave me the opportunity to study and access to
a computer lab so that I could finish my assignments on time—that's how they helped me. If I had
been anywhere else, that
wouldn’t have happened.”
As Leslie finished the STAR program, she discovered that she had a difficult choice to make. “As I grew closer to the Lord, my husband and I started growing apart,” she says. They eventually decided to separate, and as a result, Leslie started praying that God would provide them each with separate apartments.
When they graduated, Leslie and her husband each found separate places to live. “It was just a small little apartment,” she says, “but it was
mine. I was so happy.”
Leslie says she’s grateful for everything she’s been able to do since graduating the program. “I'm really grateful for the Mission and how the Lord worked through them,” she says. “I didn't even know there was something like the STAR program out there. It really helped me change and move forward into God's calling on my life. The biggest thing I learned at the Mission was to
not give up.”
Living Disciples Christian Center, the church she attended while in the program, is still her church today, and she hosts meetings and Bible studies in her apartment during the week. “I'm very grateful for the church I have,” she says. “I'm where I am today because
of the Lord and how he worked through the Mission.”
Thank you for making Leslie’s changed life possible. Because of your support, people like Leslie in our STAR Transitional Program and New Life Program are able to get the support, encouragement and training they need to change their circumstances. And some of them even go on to further education and achieve more than
they ever thought possible!