Marcus Molinar came to the Topeka Rescue Mission full of pride and an attitude of rebellion. It was a place he said he would never come because he could fix his own problems. Like many others who come to our doorstep, Marcus’s life was marked by losses, mistakes and trauma. But after six months of coming in and out of the mission, God showed Marcus two things: ‘the people at the mission really want to see you do good’ and ‘what he was doing to his body, was killing him’. That’s when Marcus committed to the program. He is now a proud graduate of both the Servants in Training (SIT) program and the Center for Biblical Leadership Development (CBLD). Marcus works for the TRM Maintenance Team, married Miranda Huske (also a SIT graduate) this past August and is now preparing their new home.
Stacy and Tony Brown have experienced a 20-year journey full of challenges, perseverance and persistent hope. Stacy is the operations manager at the distribution center and Tony is a chef at the Burger Stand. They have four amazing children. Part 1 of their story described their challenges with addiction and losing their children to state custody. Part 2 focuses on their journey toward family reunification and a stable life.
The good news came when Stacy was at her parent’s house and Tony was at work. The trial to release their children for adoption was set for the middle of May. Two weeks before the trial their lawyer called. “The attorney had called me earlier that day and I ignored the call because I was scared of what she was going to tell me. She was a very blunt person and would tell me if things looked hopeful or not. My parents were sitting there saying, “Stacy, God’s not gonna do this to you.” In my head I was talking to Him and saying, “Please don’t do this, I will do anything, I just need this last chance.” Right then I was told to get on the phone and listen to that message. I listened and I went to the ground crying. My parents thought it was bad news because I was an emotional wreck. I said “We won, we are getting them back!”
Stacy and Tony Brown have experienced a 20-year journey full of challenges, perseverance and persistent hope. Stacy is the operations manager at the distribution center and Tony is a chef at the Burger Stand. They have four amazing children. Part 1 of their story describes their challenges with addiction and losing their children to State custody.
Stacy and Tony lived a precarious life where meth played a prominent role. For Tony addiction started when he was 15 years old. “I went from using to selling. I became probably one of the biggest sellers here in Topeka. It went from bad to worse. I had cops watching me and it was a crazy lifestyle. There were some days I looked forward to it but then it became a necessity. It was something we had to have to go to bed, to get up, to go to work. It finally came to the point where I was losing multiple jobs. I couldn’t hold a job.”
When I first came here, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But thought maybe I could do business because my family has a business background. When I got here, things changed and people talked me into doing nursing. So I went to school doing nursing and started working with mentally disabled clients. It was a good experience and I enjoyed the career. Then life changed and I got caught up with the wrong group of people. I started drinking, started clubbing and I lost my inner sense. I felt like I was free; no more dad, no more mom, just myself. Physically I looked like I was okay, but spiritually I don’t think I was okay.
Terry and Lisa’s story is really about the power of relationships. Relationships with TRM staff, with other guests, with each other, and most importantly a relationship with Jesus Christ. Terry described his life as being in total shambles. “I did what I wanted, when I wanted and didn’t care to who; it didn’t matter. I knew there was something missing.” Lisa described her life as being chaotic. “I was in a bad marriage, so I was in and out of the Mission. I came in 2013 and joined the SIT program. I attended chapel regularly and stayed in church.”
When Terry came to TRM he met Ms. Nell Ritchey. “She totally changed my life and got me on the right track. I came to TRM because I was trying to overcome alcoholism. I had already given up drugs, but I kept drinking until I joined the SIT program in 2011, graduated in 2012, but I did not stay in my walk with the Lord and slowly got away from Him. Eventually I fell back into drinking again. I got back on track again when I joined the CBLD program and ever since then it has just been awesome. My life has changed so much. I met Lisa while going through the program. I struggled with alcoholism for a long time, but now I focus all my energy on the Lord first and Lisa next.” Terry and Lisa both understand their relationship with the Lord is the most important relationship they can have.
I was born in a place called Weisbaden in what was West Germany. My dad was in the Air Force and my mom went over to join him. At the age of three years, we moved back to Chicago and I lived there until I was 18. My parents were both very good people and were married for 57 years before my dad passed away. He was always a strong influence in my life; weren’t the best of friends but we weren’t the worst of enemies either. My mom was always a consistent calming factor in our family. I had an older sister and a younger brother and we got along well.
I attended one year at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, WI before transferring to Upper Iowa University where I received a bachelor’s degree in physical education, recreation, dance and safety. Following graduation, I worked as an advocate for juvenile delinquents through Cook County in Chicago. I eventually went into teaching and coaching for a Chicago high school followed by teaching at an elementary school where I performed a dual role of physical education teacher and playground teacher. Chicago district had playground teachers, which worked with at-risk children through after-school programs. In addition to that I worked the night shift at Northern Trust Bank.
I was brought up in a blue-collar home. Dad was a mechanic, always working on cars or trucks and mom managed a deli. She always had her hands in something - cooking or serving people. I came from a good home here in Topeka, was brought up in church and graduated from high school. Unfortunately, when I was about 14, I started making some bad decisions and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Without even knowing it, the decisions I was making began setting the course for my life. I was 17 and driving under the influence when I got a DUI, which started some legal troubles and more bad decisions.
I grew up in the little town of Sabetha, Kansas, in Nemaha county. I was not a great student but realized at some point that it was important for me to do my best academically. My high school achievement earned me membership in the National Honor Society and was an officer my senior year. In 1970, I moved to Lawrence to attend KU. It was a real culture shock to transition from a town of 2,500 people to a university of 16,000. I took a lot of hard knocks the first semester, but started to get it by the second semester. After that, I frequently made the Dean’s Honor Roll and graduated with a degree in education and a minor in French. Overall, I most enjoyed taking classes in science and doing research.
The Girl Scouts were a big influence on my life. Part of the Girl Scout promise is I will serve God, my country, and help people at all times. I have really strived to do that. I joined Girl Scouts at age 6. Even at that young age, I wanted to know who this God person was. I also knew to help others at all times and that I was going to be in the military. Even before we went to church, I knew Jesus was the man with holes in his hands. He cried with me, He held me, He was there for me. He kept telling me that this world was not meant to be like this. His help and hope is the only way I survived.
STORY REVISED FOR ACCURACY
Keegen first checked into the mission on June 30th, 2015 as a single male guest. Just the day before, while at Valeo Recovery Center, he had given his life to Christ and knew he wanted a new start in an encouraging place. Then, 23 days after checking in, on 7/23/15, he joined the Servants-in-Training program and also began pursuing a two-year certification from the Center for Biblical Leadership Development. Both programs are a part of education services offered through TRM Ministries. While Keegen was making progress in these programs, after the first year, he also regained custody of his two children. They immediately all moved into the Hope Center as a family! Keegen continued his studies while caring for his kids as a single dad.
I'm Andre' Smith and I'm 28 years old. I am a veteran and served two years in the United States Air Force. Upon my discharge, I moved back home to my wife and family in Virginia. Then my wife and I moved to Louisiana. We later got divorced while living in Louisiana. I moved to Kansas after my divorce to try something new-my brother was living in the area. Things didn't work out.
Doc came to TRM as a guest after experiencing a devastating loss in his personal life. He came to us a bitter, angry man whose life had spiraled into addiction. He was living outdoor homeless for more than 10 years prior to coming in to the Mission.
Over time, Doc began to understand the importance of God’s love and he accepted the Lord’s saving grace. Doc became a leader among his peers and invested a year learning to walk daily with Jesus and cultivate a servant’s heart. Those of us who had the privilege to work with Doc could clearly see how God was using him to encourage everyone he encountered.
My name is Amanda Baker and I’m from Strong City. I was put in the hospital with an infection on my back. When I got out of the hospital, I had to move in with my parents. I had many anger issues and personal challenges. I came up here to Topeka—Stormont Vail West Hospital—for help to try to figure out why I was doing what I was doing. When I was done there, I had nowhere to go, so that’s how I wound up here at the Mission. I have been here almost a year.
The CaRE program stands for Career Readiness Education and what they do is help you prepare to get a job. I’ve been at my job at Kwik Shop for almost 2 months now—it’ll be 2 months on June 24th. This new job is the first job I’ve had in over a year. It was a long struggle, because I kept getting turned down—I wanted a job—but nobody wanted me. This is the first job that said yes— so don’t give up. Just hang in there and don’t give up. I haven’t yet and I’m not going to.
In CaRE, Nell Ritchey and Linda Kinney helped me make a resume and they went out into the community and helped me find places to apply. They taught me how to prepare myself and helped me get interview clothes. We did mock interviews and they gave me other resources to help me get a job. That’s what the Career Program does for you. As a matter of fact, she’s going to get shoes to help me be on my feet at work. They’ve helped me out tremendously.
In the CaRE class, Linda was so patient with me because I was getting frustrated. They’re people who really care. If you ever need help—go to them. They’ll try their best to help you find a job. Your support of the CaRE Program would mean a lot. It’s going to help people get jobs. Jobs that they need so they can get back on their own two feet and re-connect with their families.
My name is Chad Phillips and knowing Jesus is the biggest blessing in my life! Scripture tells us, everything the enemy tries to steal – God will give back. When I came to the Mission in 2011, I had lost everything including my family. I had been struggling with a methamphetamine addiction on and off for 14 years, cut off contact with my family, lost my job and my vehicle. I had nothing left but a small voice inside my head that for the past 6 months had been saying, “This isn’t what I had planned for you.”
At the time, I thought it was my own conscience telling me, “This isn’t what you thought you would do with your life.” However, now I realize it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I knew at this low point that I had to get somewhere safe – so I showed up at TRM in the clothes I was wearing and a change of socks and underwear in my bag. My plan was to stay long enough to get sober, get a job, and then go back to the life I had been living. However, the Lord was kind enough to keep me at the Mission for a few months until my advocate sat me down and said, “We need to see some movement from you – we need to see you find employment or join a program.”
I’m Tom Bombardier and now I’m the front desk trainer at the Topeka Rescue Mission Ministries Men’s shelter. Working at the front desk is a challenge and a blessing all at the same time. You get to minister to and meet all different walks of life. This has given me an opportunity to work with people that I’ve wanted to help for a long time, addicts and people who are homeless.
So, I used to have a business, a family and a house. I became disabled and couldn’t work anymore—I lost everything. I ended up on the street and literally lost everything I cared about. I lived on the street for over 2 years. I’ve also been an addict since I was a young child. Unfortunately, I started hanging around the wrong people and making poor decisions. I ended up going to prison.