It is always so gratifying to meet members of Hope Unlimited’s graduate alumni, see how well they are doing, and hear them express their gratitude for what Hope did for them, as they proudly share their accomplishments. We meet these graduates all over as we move about the town, but one of the best places to meet a Hope alumni is …. you guessed it …. at the graduate church.
Last night it was gratifying for me to see one of our first girls, Natali, with her precious little son Vitor.
Natali has been happily married for several years now; her husband is a good man and solid professional, with a car, his own home, and a management position in a restaurant.
But it was not so much seeing Natali that was gratifying, as I see her and her son fairly frequently, but to see her mother at the graduate church!
A year ago, Natali tracked down her mentally disabled, homeless mother, and had provided her with a place to stay, along with another lady who helps take care of her. Her mother is cared for and happy, and she often comes to the graduate church with Natali.
This is just another of so many examples of our graduates caring for their family members who were unable to care for them, and in some cases even abused them, because of emotional scars from trauma from their own childhoods.
The generational cycle is broken not only when our graduates marry and become loving parents to their own biological children, but when they become loving caretakers of their own parents….
Below is a reminder of Natali’s story, which I sent out about 15 years ago.
Natali, 17, Arrived in June of 1997, the month we established the Hope Girls Ranch. Before coming, and until 10 years of age, she lived with her homeless mother. They slept in a crypt in a cemetery, coming out at night to forage for food.
Natali spent most of her time with a little dog that lived in the cemetery. Her mother kept her hidden from other people because she did not want her daughter to be taken away. Finally, the authorties found about about the situation. Her mother was unwilling to accept help to transition into a more stable situation, so the authorities decided to remove Natali from her mother’s custody and asked if we could take her in.
When Natali first arrived at Hope Ranch, she could not speak because of her lack of contact with people. Instead, she made dog-like noises. It took many months before she said her first words.
Natali is now age-appropriate in school and very popular with the other girls, although her voice is still a little funny. She has made a commitment to Christ. Natali is shy with strangers and prefers to stay in the background, but loves her life here. She enjoys crocheting and continues to love animals.