Lina first came to Love INC in 2013. She was alone–separated from her children, estranged from her mother, and grieving her older sister’s death. Physically, she was homeless, unemployed, addicted to drugs, drinking heavily, and staying in an abandoned house. The dilapidated structure had no running water and was falling apart around her. Her first contact with Love INC came when she needed blankets and other things to survive.
As Lina tells it, her downward spiral began after a sexual assault in 2008. She was attacked and brutally raped but no one believed her story–including the police officer who took Lina to the hospital after the attack. Despite compelling evidence (including bitemarks) and positive identification of the rapist, the attack was downplayed and ultimately ignored by the officer. Justice was not served.
Worse yet, Lina’s family didn’t believe her. They called her crazy and withdrew their support–abandoning her in spite of her pleas for help and understanding. Suddenly, she was no longer welcome in her mother’s home where she lived with her children.
Rejected, abandoned, separated and estranged from loved ones, Lina sank into a deep depression and turned to alcohol and drugs in a vain attempt to escape her harsh reality and ease the never-ending pain. Lina’s life continued its downward spiral and she stopped taking care of herself physically as feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and worthlessness overwhelmed her.
Initially, Lina saw Love INC as a place to receive items she needed to survive. But Love INC soon became much more than just a place to meet her physical needs. On one particular visit, one of our Client Care Coordinators asked if she could pray with Lina. Lina felt something come over her as the caring volunteer prayed. Something changed. She realized that what had happened to her was not her fault. She recognized that her addiction to drugs and alcohol was a choice, not a permanent condition.
Lina also realized she was trapped–stuck in a hellish existence. But she had no idea how to break free and make a fresh start. This realization led to a meaningful relationship with another Love INC volunteer who agreed to mentor Lina. Finding a close friend who cared about her life and the choices she made gave Lina hope and made a huge difference for her.
She checked herself into a drug and alcohol program and worked diligently to become clean and sober. She made new friends and began to interact with other Love INC volunteers and church partners. She invited God into her life, began to worship with other believers, and was eventually baptized.
Step by step, Lina’s life began to turn around. She took a job at Safeway and moved into her own apartment. After parenting classes and private counseling, she was reunited with her children and is now living with them. She paid her debts and had her drivers license reinstated.
Lina later changed employers and has been working at Goodwill as a cashier for the past two years, where she has a 401K and is building retirement savings for her future. She is working toward the goal of completing her GED and thinking about attending college.
Lina also works as a volunteer for Love INC and AWARE Food Bank when she can. She willingly shares her life transformation story with prospective Love INC donors, volunteers, and supporters when asked. When she sees people in need, she tells them about Love INC and the amazing team of volunteers who loved and cared for her.
More importantly, Lina’s heart is healing. She has forgiven her mother. Ties that were seemingly broken beyond repair are being renewed. She is building a relationship with her mother, spending time with her and showing her love. She prays for the person who assaulted her and has special empathy for those traveling on the same path she once walked.
Lina is thankful for Love INC and the many volunteers who have been there for her over the years; meeting her physical needs, praying for her, and supporting her spiritual growth. The significant transformation in her life is miraculous. Those who knew her before can hardly recognize her and she now has hope for the future – hope in Christ that compels her to reach out to help others in need.
Lina is a blessing to her family, her employer, Love INC, and many others in our community. May her story inspire us to continue to meet needs, serve people, and make a difference as we reach out to others with life-changing love–in the name of Christ.
In her own words, Lina shares, “I am on my third year free of my drug addiction and am living peacefully in my own place with my children. I’ve held down a job for two years after not being employed for ten years in the aftermath of a sexual assault that stole years of my life. God has helped me forgive so many people and accept apologies that will never be made. He has allowed me to face my fears and taken me through all of this without a criminal record. These are some of the many reasons I worship and praise God and love Him more than I could ever explain–and I am not ashamed to admit it. With God’s help, I love myself more and more each day, and see now that through Him, all things really are possible. If people saw where I came from and who I am now, they would see that’s why I walk with the Lord. He is the one who strengthens me because without Him I am nothing! Thank you Jesus!” ~ Lina