New Hope for a New Life — Finding Compassion and Resources to Move from Poverty to Empowerment

10/16/2014 .
Lisa Fontaine  .  Saddleback Storytelling Ministry

Amy’s heart sank when she recognized the man searching a park trash can for food. It was her son’s best friend from high school, Ryan. Near homeless herself, she had nothing to offer him but a ride to the PEACE Center at Saddleback Church. Over the next three weeks, Amy witnessed an outpouring of compassion and a transformation in Ryan’s life that gave her the courage to admit that she, too, needed help.

A tragic car accident left Amy permanently disabled and unable to work. She survived on a small, fixed, government income, and her best housing option was a rented pop-up trailer without a bathroom, running water, or electricity. Amy longed for a better life — one that afforded her the ability to simply make ends meet. But the reality of her circumstances made that seem like a hopeless ambition. She was about to discover that help was within her reach.

Just like Ryan, Amy was welcomed with compassion and understanding at the PEACE Center. Located on Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus, the PEACE Center provides basic resources and assistance to people in need. She was warmly befriended by a Resource Guide, and together they developed a practical course of action to address all of her needs. For the first time that she could recall, Amy felt hope.

To tackle her financial issues, a budget and debt payment plan were established. Amy also applied for affordable housing, was provided care from the medical clinic, received groceries from the Food Pantry, and was given information about a computer training class to enhance her professional skills.

Most importantly, Amy’s emotional needs were addressed. Through weekly meetings with her Resource Guide, Amy found friendship. She was reminded that no matter what life brings, in Christ she is loveable, redeemable, and valuable. With that caring support, Amy found the strength to reach out to her estranged children and reconcile with them.

Week after week, Amy returned to meet with her Resource Guide. Each time, she was given assignments to help her move forward in life. Amy worked diligently and, bit by bit, she steadily made progress toward her goals. Within six short months, she found a new place to call home — her own apartment.

Although Amy knows her journey is not yet finished, she thanks God for directing her to the PEACE Center. It was there that she found hope and purpose. Now, whenever God presents an opportunity, Amy eagerly shares with other women facing similar circumstances how Christ’s love shown through the PEACE Center transformed her life.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with basic resources, please call the PEACE Center at 949-609-8111. For volunteer opportunities, email Click here to learn more about the PEACE Center at Saddleback Church.