Christine went with a friend to Lutheran Social Services in Riverside to get lunch, and before long offered to be a volunteer in our donated clothing department. That was her way of giving back to LSS for the food we had shared with her. There was a culture of hope and acceptance at our pantry, and that’s exactly what Christine needed most.
The oldest of three children, she grew up with her mother and stepfather, both of whom did drugs from as early as she can remember. Child Protective Services (CPS) took her away from them at age 10, but she returned by age 12.
The family never had a real home, moving from motel to motel. Sometimes her mom begged at the street corner. On a regular basis her parents locked the door to their room and did drugs.
Christine dropped out of high school at 15 and started using, and selling drugs, even to her parents. During that period she had three children, each of whom was taken by Child Protective Services. She misused her pain medications, stole from stores to support her habit, and was buzzed all the time. She was in and out of jail, and for almost a year advertised online as an escort. That should have been the end for her, but for some reason that’s not the way it turned out.
After connecting with LSS, Christine began feeding the homeless population. Taking a cart from a grocery store parking lot, she found food wherever possible, and then pushed the cart through the neighborhood, sharing with anyone who was hungry. Many people offer food to the homeless, but Christine came at this from a different angle. She was homeless too.
The LSS director in Riverside helped her obtain a California ID Card, and also assisted in finding her a room to rent. She currently works two jobs weekly, and is enrolled at Riverside Community College in an Associate’s Degree program in Social Work and Human Services.
Christine has been sober for over three years, was baptized and attends worship regularly, and has a sense of direction in her life, and a purpose for her life. She says:
“For the first time in my life, I am focused on my future instead of simply repeating my past. It’s not easy, and not every day is filled with happiness. Despite that, though, I live with a sense of joy that my life is finally going somewhere, and there are possibilities waiting for me I had not even considered just a few years ago.”
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