Life changing stories
Has something amazing ever changed your life?
For me, that something was The Lord’s Place.
My name is Charles; I currently work as the Sales Coordinator at Café Joshua Catering, a social enterprise of The Lord’s Place. I loved and appreciated The Lord’s Place from the moment I started working here as an apprentice four years ago. At that time in my life, I was very lost and depressed. I didn’t have any income, I stopped going to college, my car had broken down, I was single, and I was in a lot of debt. I feared I might have become homeless if something didn’t change quickly.
After a long period of job searching at my mom’s house, I finally got a promising call back from a lady who worked for a nonprofit called The Lord’s Place. She gave me an opportunity to go through an apprenticeship program with their social enterprise called Café Joshua Catering. In just two weeks, I was earning an income and learning how to work for a catering business.
I was growing fast professionally and as a positive-thinking person. Two months later, I was hired as a part-time employee to help with the amazing growth that the social enterprise was experiencing. I was able to then fix my car and I started feeling a lot better about myself. Time was flying by; before I knew it I was given a full time position, and I was able to buy a newer car and pay off my debts.
Now today, over four years later... I have more than I could’ve ever asked for. I have the loving support of my family, my girlfriend and The Lord’s Place. I’m going back to college starting this Fall of 2016 and I’m happy to say I love where The Lord’s Place has brought me. I am looking forward to my future now.
David, a Pahokee native, is an alumni of The Lord's Place, and a beloved staff member of Joshua Thrift Store. Before he came to us, David's drug addiction became of his life's journey. At the age of 35, David went to prison for distribution of drugs and served a sentence of 15 years. After his release, he moved to California, to live with his sister, and make a life over there. Not long after that, David reconnected his wife, and in 2009, David moved back to Florida to reunite with his wife. They purchased a condo together, and they were happy. Unfortunately, he began to experience marital problems, and they both opted to separate.
David reports his wife took everything, and David ended up homeless. Feeling depressed and hopeless, he relapsed. In 2013, David was arrested for possession of drugs and went to jail. While in jail, someone told him about The Lord's Place. In 2014, upon preparing to be released from jail, he reached out to The Lord's Place. He met with staff member, John Gilmore, who helped him to get accepted into the Men's Campus. During this time, David had a change in his life which he describes as a "rebirthing".
David began to trust God as he rearranged his life. He began to move forward, didn't look back, and left the past behind him. He graduated from The Lord's Place Job Ready Program, and completed the Retail Apprenticeship Program. Soon after, he applied for a full time job at Goodwill where he remained for a year. In 2015 a Supervisor/Team Leader position became available at The Lord's Place Thrift Store. David applied and was hired. Today, David remains drug free and continues to be a Supervisor and dedicated team member . In May of 2016, he moved to The Social Enterprise Graduate House. He purchased a car, opened a savings account, and has a positive outlook on life.
David says despite his challenges that he faced throughout the course of his life, he remains focused on pursuing his goals. David with his beautiful smile says life is worth living again because of The Lord's Place. He has gained his confidence back, working hard, and is moving forward to give back.
Isabel is an alumnus of The Lord's Place Family Campus. She has decided to share her story after a lifetime of struggles. We hope her story inspires you.
Isabel is originally from Cuba. She migrated to this country when she was 19 years old. A year later, she married. Life as an immigrant presented many challenges, she didn't speak English, and found it difficult to acclimate to the america culture. Isabel assumed the traditional married role. She had a child, and became a stay at home mother. Her husband at the time was physically and mentally abusive. He was also very controlling. Ultimately, her marriage fell apart. After her divorce, Isabel was left to care of her young toddler. She said she didn't know how to write a check or how to pay bills, or juggle work and family. She also did not know that she was suffering from major depression. Her mental illness made it difficult for her to cope with the demands of daily life. She struggled to get out of bed for work. Not being able to maintain employment, not knowing the language, and having an untreated mental illness, ultimately caused her to have a nervous breakdown, and become homeless. Isabel states that the stigma, and embarrassment associated with having a mental illness, particularly in the latino culture, all played a role in her decision not to seek treatment.
In 2011, while seeking shelter at the Lewis Center, she heard of The Lord's Place and Burkle Place.
Isabel moved to Burkle Place, and was able to get connected with many community resources she did not know about. She sought the assistance of the SOAR program. She also received Vocational Rehab Job coaching, and was referred to The Jerome Golden Center where she began receiving the mental health treatment she required.
"I will forever be grateful for Mrs. Dot, and Mrs. Val" Isabel said. Isabel also mentioned that Val Santiago taught her life skills, helped her gain confidence in herself and address her mental health issues.
Isabel is happy to announce that she is now living in an apartment subsidized by the Housing First Program. While volunteering at the Lord's Place, and with the help of The Lord's Place vocational rehabilitation Program, she completed the training of Peer Counselor, and now works part-time as a Peer Counselor at The Jerome Golden Center.
During her stay at Burkle Place, Isabel learned to maintain healthy relationships, made better life choices, and to understand that she must be compliant to maintain ongoing mental health treatment. Nowadays, Isable feels she's able to handle the natural ups and downs of life, and most importantly, she's learning to live with her mental illness.
So, what's next for Isabel? Isabel says, "she keeps it very simple". She serves others in her profession as a Peer Counselor. She's comfortable to say that she's "living one day at a time, and she's no longer homeless".
Family Campus Teen Headed to Yale for Conference
Ricardo Greene, 16, an honor roll student in the Forest Hill High School Engineering Academy, will attend the National Student Leadership Conference in Engineering at Yale University in New Haven, CT this summer.
Ricardo learned of the program through the efforts of The Lord's Place Family Campus Youth Services Coordinator Dana Morgenstern. Ricardo and his family are residents of the Family Campus. His participation in this prestigious program was made possible through The Lord's Place Tomorrow Fund, which provides children and teenagers at The Family Campus experiences that will help them expand their horizons and work toward a bright future, as part of the agency's mission to break the cycle of homelessness.
Dana said she recommended Ricardo for the program because "he was very involved in his academics and is so focused on success that I thought it was the perfect program for him."
Ricardo said his interest in engineering has soared since he first entered the Forest Hill Engineering Academy last fall. "I kind of liked it because I like to work hands on, so I joined the academy," he said. "I found that it was complicated but I managed and now I'm really interested in the field."
Ricardo said he's looking forward to the two-week program because "we're going to learn about computers and motors and things of that nature." Most of all, he said, he's looking forward to meeting professionals in the engineering field and learning from them. During the program Ricardo will participate with other top students from across the county in engineering design challenges, visits to university laboratories where they will interact with leading researchers and university professors, as well as exploring cutting edge technologies.
Ricardo's parents are very proud of him and are grateful for this opportunity for their hardworking son.
"Words cannot express how excited I am about this," said his mom Dissrie Fowler.
"He's always maintained a top grade point average and he has a passion for this type of work. I'm grateful for this opportunity for him to expand his experience."
Sonya is an alumn of The Lord's Place Family Campus. She has decided to share her story after a lifetime of struggles. We hope her story inspires you.
Sonya grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. A survivor of sexual abuse, Sonya turned to drugs and alcohol. She dropped out of high school, became pregnant, and had a son. Her drug and alcohol addiction began to take over her life, and she found herself involved in criminal activities to subsidize her addictions.
In 2007, after getting released from prison, Sonya moved to Florida. She was referred to The Lord's Place by the Homeless Outreach Program. She moved into the Family Campus with her 9 year old son. Her oldest son went to live at Home Safe.
She gives credit to The Lord's Place for helping her turn her life around. While living at the Family Campus, Sonya was able to go to college, save money, quit smoking, and learned essential parenting and life skills. At the Lord's Place, Family Campus, Sonya says she made friends, and received support in a healthy family environment.
"I have come a long way since then and still moving forward" Sonya said humbly. Since she left the Family Campus, Sonya got married, had four more children, continued her college studies, and purchased a home. She made the Dean's List in 2010 at Palm Beach State College. Furthermore, this past May, she graduated from Florida Atlantic University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a BSW. She's not done studying. She's been accepted to Barry
University where she will pursue a Master's Degree. She starts in January 2017.
In 2012, Sonya lost her first son to a drug overdose. He was only 18 years old. Losing her son, inspired her seek employment in a drug and alcohol rehab treatment center, where she is currently a Family Counselor.
Sonya is celebrating almost 7 years of sobriety. She's actively working the AA program, with a sponsor. Her second son will be graduating next year from high school. She's devoted to her family, her recovery, her faith, and giving back to her community.
It was a real pleasure to have met Sonya. Thank you for sharing your success story.
Former TLP Client Receives Award
Photo and Story Courtesy of the Palm Beach Post
by Sarah Peters
Cynthia Heathcoe, CEO of Contemporary Living furniture store, outside her store at Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens, won $5,000 as the 2016 Palm Beach SCORE Entrepreneur Extraordinaire.
A once-homeless owner of a Palm Beach Gardens furniture showroom prevailed over two other northern Palm Beach County entrepreneurs in a contest to win $5,000 to make their businesses better.
Palm Beach SCORE named Contemporary Living CEO Cynthia Heathcoe its 2016 Entrepreneur Extraordinaire. The owner of the furniture showroom at Downtown at the Gardens plans to use her cash award to revamp and expand its website to make online sales easier and better display the showroom, according to a news release. She also hopes to hire additional sales staff.
After what Heathcoe calls "a series of bad choices" 17 years ago, she found herself homeless with a baby less than a month old. The Lord's Place provided her with a transitional apartment, where she and her son lived until she got back on her feet.
Now her business accepts customers' old furniture for The Lord's Place's residences. She and her husband, who helps her run Contemporary, live in the Acreage, according to the news release.
"We are honored to be a part of this as an ongoing campaign that helps us give back," Heathcoe said.
She credits her guidance from SCORE and a small business administration loan with helping her fulfill her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. SCORE chair Penny Pompei, her mentor, said her success shows what hard work and determination can do.
Dina Lauro of Chunky Dunkies, a Riviera Beach business known for its healthy desserts, and Amy and Scott Angelo of Oceana Coffee in Tequesta each received $1,000 as runners-up in SCORE's Entrepreneur Extraordinaire awards, according to the release.
When Byron lost his well paying construction job a few years back, he also lost his place to live. Three years ago, Byron became a resident of the Men's Campus. They helped him regain his driver's license and take care of his serious medical issues.
Today, Byron is employed as a food service deliveryman at The Lord's Place Joshua Catering Company.
"I love my job." Byron said. "... The Lord's Place helps those in need. It has definitely benefited me and so many others."
Byron hopes to move into his own apartment soon as he has been launched into a more stable life with the help of The Lord's Place.