- On December 1, 2016
Five Christmases ago, Carmella was simply relieved to have a safe home where she and her three young great grandchildren could live. She and the children under her care had just moved into one of the Auburn Rescue Mission’s apartments for homeless families, and Christmas gifts were a luxury she couldn’t afford. “Then the Rescue Mission showed up with a big basketful of presents. I couldn’t believe it,” she recalls.
For Carmella, having a new home and a caring community was the greatest gift – and the answer to her prayers. Just one year earlier, Carmella had moved in with her granddaughter to help her care for her young children, only to discover that her granddaughter was caught up in an addiction and a very unstable living situation. The family was evicted, and Carmella was homeless, left caring for her three great grandchildren with few resources. “The kids were sick; we were living in a hotel. I remember walking by a church and I just broke down and went in. I cried,” she recalls. But she left the church feeling peaceful and hopeful.
Carmella was soon referred to the Auburn Rescue Mission’s supportive housing program and moved into one of the apartments. She worked with a case manager to ensure that everyone in her family was getting the support they needed.
Carmella describes herself as an independent person, but she says the Rescue Mission has been there for her family when they needed a hand. When Carmella began having
mobility issues and carrying an oxygen tank, the Rescue Mission helped the family move to an apartment designed for accessibility, and helped her arrange for regular visits by health aides. When Carmella suffered a heart attack, Rescue Mission staff ensured that her great grandchildren had the care they needed and checked in on her at the hospital.
One of her great grandchildren now lives with a parent, but Carmella still cares for the other two – now ages 7 and 10. Carmella is especially thankful they can participate in the Auburn Rescue Mission’s activities for families and children, since she isn’t able to take them on all of the outings she would like to.
“The Mission’s kind of become our family,” Carmella says. “They’ve been there for holidays, birthdays, everything.” For many months, Carmella hosted a Bible study for other women in the Rescue Mission programs. She loves to cook, and would often send her guests home with leftovers.
Just as she felt God’s presence after her desperate visit to the church more than five years ago, God continues to give her strength, Carmella says. “I know He’s there and He’s watching over me. It means a lot that He’s there.”