Machelle sat in the darkness, terrified and heartbroken. Her stepfather had locked her in the closet again, while he beat her mother. And all Machelle could do was listen and weep, helpless to stop the abuse.

Then he began abusing Machelle. “It started when I was only six and continued until I was 12,” she says.

Her mother drank to cope with her abuse, but Machelle buried her pain, over the years immersing herself i school and work and marriage and motherhood. But, when she was 30, her daughter was in a life-threatening accident and the traumatic event triggered Machelle’s childhood pain. “Memories of my stepfather came up and I started drinking.”

For the next 22 years, she struggled with addiction, staying sober for nearly a decade, but relapsing after the death of her son from an epileptic seizure. “I was angry with God, I didn’t like myself, and I didn’t care about anything,” she says.

Unemployed and homeless, Machelle came to our Simonka Place guest services, where she found safe shelter, nutritious meals, and the opportunity to change her life. “I heard ladies in the New Life Fellowship program share their testimonies and I wanted the freedom in Christ they’d found.”

Machelle entered the program, and through Bible studies, chapel services, and Christian counseling, she found the freedom she sought. “I got rid of all my emotional baggage and learned to love myself again.”

A graduate of the program, Machelle interned at our Welcome Center and is now part of the staff at Simonka Place. “I want to be there for other ladies when they first come i and they’re scared. I want to support them like I was supported.”

Machelle is thankful for the kindness and compassion of loving neighbors like you — and how you have given her peace and hope for the future. “I was broken, but God brought me to the Mission and it changed my entire life.”

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