Life can be hard. There are times when dreams are elusive. As a result, sadness and feelings of failure can be precursors to waves of hopelessness. Alicia understands disappointment. For her, life has turned out very different from what she imagined.
“I never thought that I would be alone with three children,” Alicia recounts. “We lost our place to live and was staying in a hotel that a church helped provide. I found myself living in a women’s shelter.”
A breakup, loss of her job, and being homeless weighed heavily: “I was really depressed.”
Alicia not only struggled with the limitations of no place to live and no job, her heart was breaking because life was not supposed to be like this. Her dreams had been shattered. “I had a family to take care of and couldn’t provide for them,” she says with tears in her eyes.
Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Oak Ranch, located near Broadway, NC, is far from the community Alicia and her children called home.
“I needed to get away,” Alicia confesses. “We needed to leave all the negative things about our lives behind. Coming out to Oak Ranch, which is a long way from anywhere, was perfect.”
Oak Ranch has two Family Care cottages. Family Care offers safe places for mothers and their children. The program provides a home-like living environment for families while mothers catch their breath, set new goals, and experience the support they need to transition to a successful, independent living situation.
“After I learned about Oak Ranch and I knew we were moving there,” Alicia says, “I felt the first good feelings I had felt in a long time. They were feelings of hopefulness.”
Alicia was amazed at the kindness of North Carolina Baptists. Her children had clean clothes and good food. When Christmas came, they had gifts.
“We immediately felt loved.” she says. “I began to work on our future. My kids and I were able to work on things together.”
Oak Ranch is different than other BCH Family Care locations. At Oak Ranch, there are horses who need care, too.
“The children loved the horses,” Alicia remembers, “but the horses struck a nerve with me. I’ve always loved animals, and now I was able to be around horses and care for them.”
Alicia says she can get lost in her thoughts grooming and walking the horses. It was during a time like this that she first opened up and shared her heartache and pain with Family Care worker and barn manager Alicia Rosser.
“In the beginning, she shadowed me while I worked with the horses.” Rosser says. “She learned quickly how to do everything in the barn. She’s worked hard and it’s paid off.”
The more Alicia learned, the more she helped her children learn. The time they spent together in the barn caring for the horses strengthened their relationship during some tough times.
“At first, the horses were a way for Alicia to get away from the badness in her life,” Rosser says. “The horses became a path for a brighter future.”
Alicia and her family are back on their own. What was a healing time with the horses has turned into a possible career. Alicia has a job caring for horses at a farm.
“I’m so thankful,” she says. “It’s better now. I have hope again.”
You can help! Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina's Family Care program is helping families all over the state. Support Alicia and other families benefiting from this incredible program by making an online gift at www.bchfamily.org/givenow