My name is Deanna. I grew up close to Newburgh, NY, one of 4 children. My father worked hard, but was an alcoholic and spent evenings passed out in a chair.  My mother was home, but had panic attacks and mental health issues.  We struggled as children.

I remember looking up at the stars and asking God to send someone to love me.  However, I was picked on in school which led to drinking and smoking pot as a way to be accepted.  When mom died I was 18 and pregnant.  I felt lost, and like a huge part of my heart was empty.

Soon after my daughter was born I had a son.  Drinking came almost instinctively to me; it seemed to give me courage.  When the relationship with my son’s father became violent I finally left after 2 years of struggle. However, I began using crack when my kids visited their dad.  One weekend he took them and they never came back.  Now, I couldn’t stop using because it seemed to numb the pain in my heart.

For years I looked for love, but found violence and abuse at every turn.  I slept in abandoned buildings and even in the snow between parked cars. I remember waking up almost frozen to death. I was in and out of jail, and spent a stretch of 8 months in jail.

In 2011, I was violently attacked by a stranger. I was in a coma for 2 weeks, and as a result was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.  Because I was homeless I remained in a neuro – rehabilitation center for over 2 years. It was a nursing home, where people died around me. My brother committed suicide during this time.  I felt like I had lost everything and was in a hole of hopelessness.

God led me in December 2015 to Capital City Rescue Mission to enter the New Faith program.  At last, I feel safe. I have a pretty apartment and everything I need: food, clothing, and shelter. But more importantly, I can ask questions and learn.  What excites me is learning about Jesus. Today, I know He loves me, died for me and lives in me. The Holy Spirit has given me new life. I’ve learned I can pray and talk to God about my temptations. He helps me. People here care about me. God has given me real joy in my heart.

Bible studies and classes have helped me be aware of spiritual battles. I’ve also learned I’m not the only one who’s been abused. I’ve learned to speak up and talk about what is on my mind. It helps to share and takes the weight off my heart.

Today, I know I’m not alone. My God and Savior loves me and is always with me. I’m thankful that the Rescue Mission has helped me become grounded in faith and prepared to be independent.

Thank you for providing for me.  I have hope for tomorrow and can help others.  God bless you.

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