The Village of Hope kitchen prepares over 3,000 meals a day. Under the direction of two paid staff, all meals are prepared and cooked by our student-residents living at the Mission. In addition to feeding all 200 men, women and children at the Village of Hope, our students also prepare meals for the hungry and homeless men and women staying at the Armory and Mercy House shelters in Orange County. This week we I had the opportunity to share some of our students’ stories. These are the hard working individuals who have known the feeling of being lost and now have the opportunity to serve those in the same position they were once in.
My name is Yorel McDowell and I am 41 years old. Over all I have lived a pretty good life. But in 2013 my life took a turn for the worse when I started using methamphetamine and my life spiraled out of control. I became homeless living on the streets sleeping at parks and behind abandoned houses and buildings. In and out of jail, between Halloween in 2013 and the day after Halloween in 2014 and again in June of 2015, I was guilty of burglary and probation violations. Each time I was released from jail, I went back to the same place nd started doing drugs again. It was a viscous cycle that I could not break. I was so stressed out and tired of the life I was living, I wanted to die. I was at the end of my road, I didn’t’ care about my life or anyone else’s. I sold drugs to support my habit as well as my girlfriend’s, who I also began to hate. I was so angry, I would fight any and every one. I was just mad at the world for the three years I was on the streets. Not a day went by that I didn’t get high.
I started contemplating death more and more so one day I asked God to help me. Beginning 0n June 6, 2015 I prayed every day for three months and attended bible study in jail. I always asked the Lord Jesus to give me strength to not go back to drugs. Before I was released, I prayed to God and I asked for three things; a roof over my head, to find me people who would help me get closer to him and to be busy every day of the week. I was released from jail August 31, 2015 and I didn’t go back to using drugs. Three weeks later I was moving in to the Village Of Hope! I have my own bed, I work six days a week and I’m learning how to study the Bible. God answered my prayers and I’m strengthening my relationship with God through Jesus. I stayed at the Armory homeless shelter in Fullerton a couple times in 2014 and now I cook for them at the Village Of Hope I thank God for this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord and others. It feels so good to cook food that’s feeding people in need especially since I was there not so long ago. I thank Jesus for giving me another chance to live my life for Him. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I’ve been here at the Village Of Hope for about 4 months now, and I am blessed to be a part of something so amazing here in Tustin. First and foremost, I would like to give thanks and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for creating such a perfect program for a broken vessel such as myself. This program has given me the chance to grow spiritually, to become closer to God, and to leave my intoxicated/street life behind. I am currently working in the kitchen with a great staff (James and Barbara) who have blessed me with a position to excel in the culinary arts, something I have a passion for. When I was asked to be a part of the culinary team to cook for the Armories, I had a puzzled look on my face, not knowing what it was, or what it was for. As soon as I found out, it was an automatic: “Let’s do this!” I am so thankful that I am able to cook and provide wonderful meals to the hungry, and families in need.
How I ended up here at the Village Of Hope is, I lost my job at the Senior Living Home working as a caregiver for almost five years. After losing my job, I was staying at Isiah’s House for two weeks. My husband Donald was staying at the Salvation Army hospitality and a person working there mentioned the Orange County Rescue Mission program. My husband and I have been here two and a half months. How his program has helped me is that I have accepted God into my life, praying more like I should and started to read the Bible more. Here at the Village of Hope I work in the kitchen, I help prepare the meals for the Armories. I see helping prepare meals for the Armories as a way of giving back since I have stayed at the Armories before.
I want to share these stories as a testament to the work God can do in our lives. Thank you to all of our donors and volunteers who make this mission of service possible. It is a pivotal opportunity for our clients to have the opportunity to be empowered to give back and feel purposeful in this program. It is one of the benefitting factors of our program to give a hand up, not a hand out.