Melody’s life changed when she got pregnant at the age of 16. Her life changed when she had a second son and had to raise her kids all on her own. Her life changed when her oldest was 12 and got in a car accident, suffering from a life-altering brain injury. And her life changed when she found Denver Rescue Mission, the place that—17 years later—is still a major support in her life.
17 Years Later…
As a single mother, Melody has always made sacrifices for her two sons, Raymond and Desmond. When she had Raymond at 16, she had to learn how to be a mother while still learning what it meant to be a teenager. While her friends were off partying, Melody was working night shifts after school to make ends meet.
She was working at Denver Health, which was in walking distance to her high school, but it was a challenge to be a new mother and a student. She worked hard to graduate high school, but after that, Melody knew she had to do more to make her son a priority.
“I wish I would have had it in me to go to college, but my main concern at that point was just taking care of my son,” Melody said. “I used to go to work, walk to school, go back to work until nine o’clock at night, and then catch a bus home. Eventually I said something has to give. That’s when I picked up the phone and called Denver Rescue Mission.”
Melody originally contacted the Mission 17 years ago to get a car, but even after they referred her somewhere else for a vehicle, she stayed connected with the Mission through reading the monthly newsletters.
It was there that she learned of the Mission’s resources to help with housing and soon applied to be in Family Rescue Ministry—a program that provides first month’s rent and deposit assistance for families and seniors experiencing homelessness, as well as mentors from the community who help with basic needs and goals, budgeting skills and relationship support.
“They helped me get my own apartment and build my self-esteem and my confidence,” Melody said. “I was starting to feel like a young, responsible adult because I was able to have my own place for my kid.”
After being in her apartment for a few years, Melody got approved for a home loan. It was another moment that changed her life, one that she is still grateful for 15 years later as she continues to live in the same home.
“It’s just a good feeling to know that I have a home,” Melody said. “My dream is to be able to pay off my home so that when I leave this world, my boys will be able to have the comfort of knowing that they have a place.”
Melody’s oldest son, Raymond, was in a traumatic car accident when he was 12 years old. Due to the brain injury he received, he now lives with a disability and will be in Melody’s care for the rest of his life.
“My son was in a really bad car accident where the little boy next to him died,” Melody said. “He had a lot of physical therapy and had to learn to walk again. He is 31 now but is probably more like an 18-year-old because of his brain injury. It’s been a really rough road.”
Although she was able to secure a home, Melody has continued to face many challenges throughout the years. But no matter the struggle, Melody has always felt supported by those at the Mission, particularly Director of Family Services, Tom Leavitt.
Melody and her sons in their apartment when they joined FRM in 2005 (left) and later in 2008 (right).
“There are countless challenges as a single parent in the city, such as: providing for their children’s needs, working long hours in energy-draining jobs with low pay, keeping up with increasing rental cost, and having a lack of support systems,” Tom said. “Single mothers and fathers who come to FRM and fight for self-stability for years, like Melody, are the forgotten heroes of our society!”
Melody has always looked to Tom as a mentor. Throughout the years, when things break down, she knows she can always call him, or anyone at the Mission, and they will connect her with helpful resources.
“The Mission as a whole just puts smiles on faces, keeps people warm and makes people feel important and cared for,” Melody said. “They’ve always made me feel that way, from the minute I picked up the phone with them.”
“Family Rescue Ministry taught me self-sufficiency. It just gave me a sense of someone caring for me and reminding me that even when I feel at my lowest, there is somebody I can talk to.”
Melody’s strength as a single, hardworking mother is evident as she faces each trial in life head-on. She credits her strength and ability to go through each day to her faith.
“If I let go of faith, I’m letting go of my purpose,” Melody said. “There have been so many times that I’ve cried until I couldn’t cry anymore, just talking to God from within my heart saying, ‘I have to give it to You now.’ Of course, I still have to do the work to get things done, but I am a full believer of faith—it’s the only reason why I’m still able to do what I can do.”
“The Mission as a whole just puts smiles on faces, keeps people warm and makes people feel important and cared for.”
Now, Melody is looking forward to finally being able to give back to the Mission and the people who have supported her for so many years.
“If I were to win the lottery, the first people I’d give back to is Denver Rescue Mission because of how much they’ve helped me—I genuinely mean that,” Melody said. “It’s really hard to find people who would last a lifetime of friendship like that, and I feel really grateful to be able to have people like that in my life: people who care.”