When Jesus told Zacchaeus the tax collector that he wished to stay at his house, Jesus gave him a second chance. At Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS), we seek to follow Jesus’ example by serving children and families with Christ-centered care, which includes giving others a second chance when they need it most. Like Jesus, we never judge the people who turn to us for help; instead, we embrace them as they are.
A perfect example of how PCHAS can help change a life is Karen, a single mom from Dallas who struggled to make ends meet and provide for her two-year-old son, Mason. “I was 33, waiting tables and thinking, ‘Is this what my life is always going to be like?’” she said.
That’s when PCHAS stepped in.
PCHAS’ Single Parent Family Program serves as a stepping stone for single mothers seeking to get back on their feet after suffering a setback. The goal of the program is to give families a chance to become self-sufficient without fearing for their survival.
Cyndi Fuller, our Single Parent Family and Transitional Living Coordinator in Waxahachie, helped Karen feel more relaxed about joining the program when she asked Mason about his favorite things. Karen told Cyndi that he loved the TV show Paw Patrol
and Mickey Mouse. On the day they moved into the Single Parent Family Program residence, Mason’s room was completely decked out in Paw Patrol
and Mickey Mouse gear. “As an adult, it’s hard to transition from living alone to living in a Single Parent Program residence no matter how welcoming the staff is,” Cyndi said. “But for a child, it’s even scarier.” Filled with appreciation, Karen added, “Seeing some of his favorite things in his room helped Mason feel welcomed in his new home.”
Karen and Mason live in a house with three other single mothers and their children, who each have their own bedrooms and bathroom within the house. Every week, Karen meets with Cyndi to discuss goals that they’ve set. “She weighs in, not just as a caseworker, but as a friend,” Karen said. Together, they celebrate successes and decide how to better tackle challenges.
Karen now has a job she loves. She’s been working as a receptionist there for only three months, but she’s about to receive her first raise! Despite the fact that Karen has a long commute, she’s so grateful to have the job. “All the difficulties related to the job are worth it, as I’m able to provide for Mason,” she said. “He’s my biggest motivator.”
Since joining the program, Mason has excelled. He went from acting out and not sleeping at night to smiling and laughing all the time. Children often pick up on what adults are feeling and it can affect their behavior. Because Karen is under less stress now, Mason is too. “Because we’re living at this wonderful home for single moms, a much-appreciated safe haven, I can take a deep breath and he can be carefree, just like a child should be,” Karen said.
While at PCHAS, Karen has learned important tangible skills, such as money management and nutrition, but she’s also benefited immensely from the program in other ways.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned since joining the Single Parent Family Program is that one is not measured by one’s mistakes,” said Karen. “I learned this from Cyndi, who has encouraged me to not focus on my faults. That’s just a bit of the wisdom she passed on to me and to the other mothers in the program.”
Karen has become something of a mother hen to the other moms, passing on life lessons she’s learned while in the program. An important lesson she has learned is how to give back to others and to her community.
Through it all, Karen believes God is responsible for her transformation and she understands what it means to start anew. “My story is truly a testament to God’s glory,” she says. “If you allow Him to, He’ll change you. That’s what this program has taught me.”
Karen knew she wanted to be a better mom and a better person. All she needed was a second chance.
So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!
2 Corinthians 5:17
This Easter, please help struggling families like Karen and Mason. You can donate online at giving.pchas.org
By Alyssa Rueter