Rescue Haven for Women & Children of Salt Lake City Utah
The Rescue Haven is a safe place where women and women with children can find safety from abusive relationships, counseling for addiction and the love of Jesus. As a ministry of the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, Rescue Haven also gives homeless and low-income women access to emergency shelter, food, clothing, job placement and much more. Rescue Haven has room for 14 women, including 11 on its New Life addiction recovery program. Rescue Haven's goal is to give homeless and battered women a fresh start and new life with Christ.
Women on the Streets
Taking a shower with a sprinkler in a park or someone's yard, sleeping with a stranger so you don’t have to sleep on the streets, feeling lonely even when you’re surrounded by dozens of people – these are the experiences of the women now living at Rescue Haven, the Rescue Mission's ministry to homeless women and women with children. Formerly many of these women lived on the streets, grinding out an existence that was often filled with abuse, heartache and pain. Much of that pain was caused by others; much of it caused by their own bad choices.
This month these 12 women from Rescue Haven are sharing with us what it is like to be a homeless woman in Salt Lake. Here at rescuesaltlake.org and through the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake’s monthly newsletter “Rescuer” we are bringing you some of their stories. First-hand accounts of what it feels like to be a homeless woman in Salt Lake.
The overwhelming feeling the dozen homeless women from Rescue Haven described was loneliness and despair. These feelings developed from damaged relationships with children and tarnished relationships with men, broken by sex and pain.
“You get desperate not to feel those feelings, desperate not to think about your children, desperate not to think about how much your life sucks,” one woman said. Even street women are expected not to stink and the dozen women recalled times when they used sprinklers, park fountains and restroom sinks as showers.
“I’m not proud of what I had to do,” one woman said. “I sold my body, I stole, I cheated, I isolated, I tried to commit suicide because I couldn’t take it anymore.”
The women described a God-given desire to be nurturers, to comfort others but said they were unable to fulfill that desire on the streets because they constantly had to put on a “tough” front. That unfulfilled desire often grew to anger, pain and resentment and caused many of the women to lash out at others.
“For me I was mad at God for a lot of years,” one woman said. “I heard about God I knew about God. Whenever something went wrong I could blame someone and if there was no one to blame I would just be made at God.”
For many of these women, the pain started early. One woman described how her mother would scratch her face when she was a child so that she wouldn't “be pretty.” Later when she became pregnant at an early age her mom wanted to kick her in the stomach to cause a miscarriage.
And while some women had painful life beginnings, others had fairly decent lives prior to becoming homeless. Some had nice homes, nice jobs and nice families before drug addiction stole everything. One women said: “I lost everything to alcohol and drugs – family, a home, possessions, health, beauty, a car, pets, good credit, self respect, dreams, goals, countless jobs, everything.” Losing it all left her homeless and on the streets. “I have slept on the street and have begged for food,” the woman continued. “Slept with many men just for alcohol and drugs or just a place to sleep and eat.”
And while life on Salt Lake’s streets is tough, finding redemption at Rescue Haven is so very sweet. That redemption reminds many of when a sinful woman anointed Jesus’ head with oil and his feet with tears. While many around objected, Jesus noted that no one else in the room had shown him such love: “Her sins, which are many,” Jesus said. “have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
The women at Rescue Haven – because they have been forgiven much – have the ability to love much and are being restored day by day by Jesus’ healing touch.
“Each day I grow more and more interested in knowing what the Lord’s will is and what his plan is,” one woman said. “My relationship with God has become so intimate, it’s fascinating to me.”