Kat Comes In From the Cold
I had an ideal childhood. With two loving parents, I grew up in a beautiful Simi Valley Leave it to Beaver home. I was a good athlete, a model student, and high school president.
And I hated myself.
Much of my self-loathing grew out of the fact that I was adopted. No matter how ideal my life, I always knew my own birth mother didn’t want me. No matter how much my adoptive parents loved me, someone who should have loved me abandoned me. Nothing could ever take that feeling away.
So in high school, I found solace among the troubled kids and drugs — drugs that gave me energy, masked my sadness, and made me believe they were my friends.
I got married right out of high school and had my first child, and when that marriage failed a couple of years later, I married another man, had another child, and soon left that physically abusive marriage.
But the pattern of my life was set. A constant, vicious cycle of drugs, drug dealing, wrong men, jail, and more kids. By 2004, I was an addict with six kids by six different men. I had never lived anywhere for more than six months. I was hopelessly in debt — and I was sitting in prison.
My one constant was my adoptive mom. She was always there for me, no matter what. She loved me and she was my best friend. And while I was sitting in prison, the one person who truly loved me died.
Her death shook me. I’m a tough survivor, and I always thought I could take care of my own problems. But in prison, I realized I was helpless. And that’s the moment I decided to get the help I needed to change.
In August 2007, I came to Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center with my new-born daughter, Zoe. God led me there to build a new foundation for my life. They give me a room, offered me classes to manage my money better, taught me better ways of relating to people, helped me pay off my bills, and gave me love and friendship I desperately needed.
I still think about my birth mother. I would do anything to see what she looks like. But I’ve found a new purpose in my life. Hope Gardens has taught me how to be a better parent — the kind of parent my adoptive mother was for me. My 17-year-old daughter, Jasmine, and Zoe still live with me, and I’m determined to raise them right.
God has my life under control. And thanks to Hope Gardens, I’m a better mom and a productive member of society again. Hope Gardens is my safe community.
Mothers By the Numbers
Making Life Possible For More Moms
A couple weeks ago, eight mothers experiencing homelessness — along with all their kids — showed up at Union Rescue Mission with nowhere else to go. Despite news reports of economic recovery, more mothers and kids are falling into homelessness than ever before. In fact, I just read that 1.6 million children, along with their mothers, are now living in cars, hotels, or doubling up with friends — left on their own to try to make it in our increasingly complex society.
So many mothers are seeking Union Rescue Mission’s help, we’ve run out of rooms for them all. We’re forced to “house” increasing numbers of them in special tents in one of our community rooms.
But the good news is, we believe that — with your help — we can help these hurting moms overcome the barriers that cause poverty and live successful lives. Your gifts are providing the safety, financial-management skills, parenting skills, education, and career training single moms need to succeed. Thank you for providing a ladder out of homelessness and poverty for precious moms and their children.
Andy Bales, CEO, Union Rescue Mission