Maria has come a long way, on an amazing journey. Maria was kidnapped at 14 years of age, and wasn't rescued from her situation until she was 20. The details of this time in her life will not be recounted here, but they result in her suffering PTSD. Consequently, she chose to live outdoors and away from people.
Eventually, she was able to re-enter society - to a degree. She traveled around to many places, working where she could, but never really settling down. Along the way she had two bouts with cancer, but always managed to be self-sufficient and not ask others for charity. She earned her way wherever she went, and she never was involved with alcohol or drugs.
A little over a year and a half ago, she was living in Texas and was offered a job as a caregiver to an elderly woman in Bristol. Used to moving around, she decided to give it a try and made the long trek here.
Not too long after accepting the job, she dropped a large can of vegetables on her toe, which required amputation. While healing, she was not mobile enough to suit her employer and all of her possessions were thrown out of the house and she was asked to leave.
For a year and a half, Maria lived on the streets of Bristol. During the summer, it was not too bad as she would do odd jobs for a sandwich and something to drink. Winter was another story where survival was hard.
Living in a local cave, she spent four days deathly ill. As she began to feel better, Maria came to the conclusion that she could no longer spend time on the streets. She had to find safe shelter, but where? She heard people talk about the Haven and she finally decided to come here. Maria says, "I'm glad I did".
Since coming to the Haven, Maria has bonded with our staff, and been a remarkable help in the food pantry. Just recently she has begun helping a couple of days a week in the kitchen cooking for the residents and for the daily public meal.
"The Haven has changed my life!", she says.
Maria still has lingering health problems from not having consistent healthcare and living out in the elements, but says the Haven gets her to doctor visits and has provided an environment where she can heal and grow spiritually.
A sweeter person never lived and we are so glad God brought her here.