A lack of a support system can be a major barrier for those experiencing homelessness. Through the Family Rescue Ministry program, Tonya was able to build a relationship with a mentor team, who gave her the extra support she needed to get back on her feet.

For most of Tonya’s life, she was confined by a lifestyle she didn’t want to be in. Growing up in a strict household turned into one of abuse years later. When her situation became physically life-threating and began to affect her daughter, Tonya knew she needed to find a way out.

The Greatest Gift: A Caring Community 2

“The majority of my life was very isolated. You always felt not good enough and anxious about everything,” Tonya said. “Nobody should ever be made to feel that way.” She and her daughter Victoria moved to Colorado, hoping for a chance to restart. As a single mother with only one other family member close by, there was not a lot of support.

After realizing that it wasn’t doable to live with that family member, Tonya was then connected with Denver Rescue Mission’s Family Rescue Ministry program. This program provides families and seniors in need with assistance with their first month’s rent and deposit toward a long-term housing solution as well as mentors from the community.

“The Mission helped us get into a place,” Tonya said. “I went there, and everybody kept asking, ‘Are you guys, okay? Do you need anything?’ That was very helpful.”

“We are doing what we are called to do—be the hands and feet of Christ.”

Janice, Mentor

An especially beneficial aspect of the program was the mentorship she received. Tonya was connected with a mentor team from Broomfield United Methodist Church, and they became her constant support system, something she never truly had before.

“We had a group of five very loving, very kind people as mentors. I could talk to them about things we were going through, they checked on how we were doing and they helped us get whatever we needed,” Tonya said. “The biggest thing was helping me get proper tires on my vehicle. I cried so much because nobody has ever done that.”

By having people there to support her, Tonya was able to create goals for herself, get help with her taxes, get connected to resources such as food banks, and so much more. But most importantly, she had a community, she had allies and she had people she could trust.

With her mentor team by her side, Tonya no longer felt alone, especially during the holidays when not having people to get together with can be difficult.

“Growing up we did not celebrate anything. So now being able to participate means getting together with friends, and it means a lot to be able to experience that,” Tonya said.

Going into this holiday season, they can truly feel the love around them. “Victoria has told me, ‘Mom, you know, with everything that everyone has helped us with, and just all we’ve experienced, I know what true love is now.’”

Relational Poverty

A common cause of homelessness is relational poverty, or a lack of community and support. Mentors can help by coming alongside program participants with personal support when they need it most.

4 Ways Mentors Help

1. Listen

Simply giving participants someone to talk to and listening to what they’re going through makes a difference.

2. Pray

Prayer and spiritual support mean so much to someone going through one of the hardest times in their life.

3. Guide

Pointing participants toward places they can receive donated furniture and clothing, food stamps, school supplies, and other resources may be the boost they need to get back on their feet.

4. Encourage

Mentors walk alongside participants as they create work, personal, financial, and family goals. They are there if mentees have questions and encourage them as they accomplish their goals.

Tonya’s main goal is to provide for Victoria and support her in whatever path she wants to take. Ultimately, she hopes to give Victoria the life she never had. “I try to make sure Victoria sees that life is completely different than what we used to know, and that people are completely different than what we used to be around,” she said. “There are so many good, loving and giving people.”

Even after graduating from the Family Rescue Ministry program, Tonya continues to stay connected to her mentor team, including finding ways she can give back. When they told her about another one of the families they mentor needing some furniture, Tonya didn’t hesitate to offer the extra pieces she had.

“If I can help in any way, I’m going to because I know what it feels like when you have nothing and are struggling,” Tonya said. “Even if it means taking away what we have. If somebody needed a couch and I only had one, I’d be willing to hand it over just for somebody else to be comfortable because I know what it truly means to be without.”

Thank You for Changing Lives

“I am very grateful for every single donor,” Tonya said. “When you know that you have help and support, it helps you push forward, keep going and accomplish those goals. It truly does.”

Through your generosity this holiday season, you can provide long-lasting support for people like Tonya.

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  • The Mission in My Words: Broomfield United Methodist Church Mentor Team
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