All Smiles

by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” Romans 15:13

If her mom is happy, 12-year-old Grace is happy. Thanks to the Children’s Hope program of OBHC, they have both been very happy for a while.

“Before coming here, we bounced everywhere, city to city. We stayed at my aunt’s house for a little bit, but then mom decided to go to rehab to get help. She wasn’t court-ordered or anything. She just wanted to be smart for all of us. Now, we’ve been here for about a year and a half,” Grace says with a nod and a smile, “and we love it! It’s really fun. I get more opportunities than when we lived at the rehab place or anywhere else. I know it’s right where God wanted us.”

Smiling ear to ear, Grace continues, “I thought it would probably be like the other places, but then we got here, and I knew this place was different. It was a little stressful at first with my mom trying to get a job and figure out what we were supposed to do, but after a week or so, it started feeling like home. We recently moved into one of the transitional living duplexes, and I’m excited. Mom says when we do leave here, we’ll live in a house.”

Grace can barely contain her joy. “I just feel so great about all of it, for her and for me! My mom hardly even smokes anymore, and I know quitting is healthy for her. We have a car now. Before, we only ever walked and rode bikes places. We have a roof we can actually live under and relax. She makes enough money so we don’t have to go to the store with only ten bucks and figure out how to get the most we can. We have enough food at home now to last like a month, I think.”

Grace and Family

Grace is so thankful for the support and community God has provided for her family. “My mom and I sometimes talk about where we’ll go after living here,” Grace explains, “but it’s hard to imagine going very far. My mom said the people on this campus are like a big family to us, and I agree. Ms. Regina, Ms. Cathy, Ms. Maddie, Ms. Lieschen and all of the advisors: they’re all so helpful and care about us. Before my mom had a car, they helped us get anywhere we needed to go. If we had appointments, they were there. Ms. Regina likes to do fun things, too, like take us to the zoo and paint. Last Monday, she went out of her way to get us the stuff we needed to make sundaes. She didn’t have to, but she did! Ms. Maddie took me and my friend to church where they taught us skills we would need in life, like how we shouldn’t get into relationships too young and how it’s wrong to bully people. In the summer, we do Bible activities. Sometimes I go to Mrs. Phyllis, and she has helped me a lot because I used to have super bad anger issues. Now I don’t. I still get angry, but I know how to control it.”

Grace is also thankful for the people at her mother’s workplace. “Mom works at a business where she’s the only one who isn’t part of the owner’s family, but they have included her. Now they have a work family, and she’s a part of it. She’s even playing on a softball team with her work family and their normal family, so that’s even more friends for her. It makes me so happy!”

Grace enjoys the new habits they are forming. “We go to church every Sunday and Wednesday,” she says, proud of the fact. “We’re learning a lot. My mom used to teach a Bible study at the rehab place. I hope she keeps doing stuff like that for others. She’s good at it.”

All in all, Grace feels safe, content and optimistic about her future. For those whose financial gifts gave her family a place to land and regroup, Grace feels nothing but gratitude.

“This is such a nice place you made,” Grace says. “People are actually nice to each other here. The adults aren’t being sneaky and hiding stuff in their shoes like at the rehab place, and the kids are actually good to each other. If we didn’t get to come here, I would probably be getting in trouble because the older kids were a bad influence. When I came here, I found out I’m good at school, and I love it. I haven’t gotten in trouble one time. My mom is relaxed enough now to be funny and joke around, and we both just smile all the time. We’re really happy here, so thank you!”