Rachel and her ex-husband raised their three children in West Linn, where Rachel was a certified nursing assistant for 15 years. In 2016 Rachel experienced a number of crippling deaths in her family, including her beloved younger brother. Rachel visited California to put her family’s affairs in order, but when she returned she found that her then husband had left and broken up their family. The compounded mental and emotional toll led Rachel to homelessness.
“Negative thoughts in my head kept going around and over and over again and kept me in a shameful state of mind,” Rachel says. “I just continued on day after day because I really didn't have a [self] worth.”
While she was homeless, Rachel mostly stayed around McLaughlin Blvd, in shelters, friends’ houses, tents, cars and motels. As Rachel reached out to organizations for help, she began to learn how to grieve and take better care of herself. Among many programs, Rachel says she benefited from hospital outpatient therapy groups and utilizing the crisis hotline. After several years, Rachel’s daughter came to find her on the street.
“When my daughter came back into my life, that gave me a reason, it gave me worth” says Rachel. “I got to have a second chance at being a mom.”
Rachel began volunteering with The Father’s Heart in Oregon City, an organization that offers shelter and services for people experiencing homelessness.
“They liked me and offered me a job and then quickly offered me a management position for the warming shelter,” says Rachel.
Rachel then received a housing voucher from The Father’s Heart through the Regional Long-Term Rent Assistance program.
“I had seven years feeling dead inside,” says Rachel. “I struggled for acceptance. And people want acceptance from people. And when we're not accepted, it is so harmful. I didn't realize how badly not being accepted by society hurt me until Sarah and Dawn from The Father’s Heart told me they loved me and that I’m great. Their [acceptance] made me cry every day.”