My mother was an eighteen-year-old unwed mother. I went to relatives here and there but there was nowhere for me to go. I became homeless. I was 12.
I had a teacher who took me to meet some friends of hers. They owned a baby store in San Francisco and eventually they asked me to come and live with them.
It was just like a dream come true but then one night he came into my room. I could have ended it if I’d screamed but I was desperately wanting to be a part of a family.
I fought him as hard as I could but the inevitable happened. How long it lasted — weeks, months — I honestly don’t remember. But what I do remember is looking over him one night and his wife was standing there. He told her that I had led him on and they told me I had to leave. It broke my heart.
I walked to the Greyhound bus depot, went into the ladies’ room, and sat on that toilet with my legs pulled up so no one could see me. It was the most terrifying night of my life.
The next day the police came, and they asked me who they could call. There was no one, so they called The Salvation Army.
And about an hour later two Salvation Army officers — they looked like angels — walked in. Major Helga Dempster and Brigidier Ada Van Haslen — she was always one of the closest and most precious people in my life.
They put their arms around me they told me I was safe, that no one would ever hurt me again.
It was wonderful. I got a uniform. I wore a bonnet, which they don’t wear now, and I was a part of something. I was loved. I was involved helping people.
They gave me values; that you love people; that wherever we are we are to be the hands and feet of Christ, extended.
And today I am the president of the board for The Salvation Army here in Marysville. I’m giving back part of what I was given.
The Salvation Army reaches out to people that the world has given up on and I am the living proof of that.
I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t found me. That’s frightening. But they gave me everything.
You know, the world talks about passing away and dying. In The Salvation Army you’re promoted to glory, to be with Christ. And when God calls me home I will be promoted to glory.
If you want to know more about how to be the “hands and feet of Christ, extended” by volunteering with The Salvation Army, please visit our website at usawest.org.