A funny thing happened as I was walking down the steps of the Hope Center, Star of Hope’s Administrative Office. I was headed for some quiet, out-of-the-way spot, where I could sit outdoors, eat my lunch and absorb the remnants of spring, before the pleasant breezes morphed into yet another long, hot summer. Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, a voice spoke to me saying, “Miss, how long have to been here?” I turned to see a woman walking up the ramp alongside the building, nearly hidden from view by the fragrant gardenia bushes blossoming by the railing that borders the ramp. I stopped. Having never seen her before, I responded, cautiously: “Why are you asking?”
That was the beginning of an amazing story that reflected the heart, soul and Mission of Star of Hope, through the eyes of one who had lived at the Star of Hope Transitional Living Center and experienced its transforming ministry.
Her name is Angela. In truth, Angela was not always seeking personal transformation. She had become comfortable with turning a blind eye to the disreputable goings-on in her household. Desperation was the foot in her back that finally pushed her out of complacency, following the arrest and imprisonment of her live-in companion who was charged with drug trafficking.
“I was never a part of the drugs,” said Angela. “I knew it was wrong, but I loved him. I still love him. But when he was arrested, I started to think about my life and what I wanted for my three children. I wanted something better for them. So I called the Star of Hope and asked if I could be accepted into the Transitional Living Center program. I needed to start all over again; and I needed skills to help me find a job so that I could provide for my children in a proper way. I wanted to be a better example. I was so surprised when I was accepted!"
The surprise was evident as she stood on the steps of the Hope Center, telling her story. Star of Hope had been her place of re-birth. Now she was back to say thank you to the people who loved her through her metamorphosis. I lost count of the number of times she repeated herself saying, "Thank you. “She was the most exuberantly grateful woman I have ever met. Every syllable that passed her lips had joy infused all through it. She was bubbling over with excitement about how her life was completely changed, because of Star of Hope, and that she would be eternally thankful for the time she spent in the TLC program.
“I was determined to master the program and I did,” she said. “I did everything I was told to do—I mean, I worked hard, and it paid off. I learned so much. And my children loved being there. The staff was always there for us and they never judged me. They just helped me. I remember the day I was leaving—I had a job at the Veteran’s Administration, where I still work, and a nice apartment. One of the case managers wanted to give me some things to help me get started. I told her, 'No. I can’t take them. You have already done so much for me and my family.'”
“I thank God every day for Star of Hope,” she concluded. And walking away, she waved goodbye and said, “I will never forget. Please tell everyone that I said thank you.”