HOPE FOR A NEW BEGINNING
Vickie Henderson struggled with drug addiction for 16 years before coming to the Mission. Her kids were taken from her and she was in jail for stealing when her mom told her about the Los Angeles Mission. But Vickie did not want to come here. When she was released from jail her mother told her if she didn’t get help she would no longer have anything to do with her. So Vickie asked her brother to bring her to the Los Angeles Mission and it changed her life.
“I walked through those doors and people hugged me. Just hugging me and holding on. I just tried it. My life has been changed here,” says Vickie.
During her time at the Anne Douglas Center for Women she met two mentors who helped her launch her career in cosmetology. While serving together in the Mission’s kitchen, Vickie shared with them about her dream of running a salon for homeless people. “After I graduated, I worked for (my mentor) in Bel Air for about seven and a half years. When she was getting ready to retire she asked me if I wanted to work for the homeless. I had forgotten about this dream I’d shared with her in the kitchen at the LA Mission,” says Vickie.
But her mentors had not forgotten Vickie’s dream. They provided the funds for her to attend cosmetology school, and that act of kindness gave Vickie the tools she needed to achieve her dreams and bless countless others, too. For the last 15 years, Vickie has been running a full salon for the homeless called PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). They provide nails service, facials, haircuts, and grooming. PATH also gives its clients grooming supplies so they can care for themselves.
Before coming to the Mission, Vickie struggled with authority.
“I was just like a baby being taught over. I was taught caring about people and not judging. They shaped me into a person who cares about others, who respects authority. [Being in the program] taught me that it’s ok when things go wrong in your life.”
After Vickie graduated from the program, life dealt her a devastating blow. Her daughter was murdered, leaving Vickie to care for her six-month-old grandson. During this difficult time Vickie learned that the Mission’s support extends beyond graduation day.
“I came to work and they told me my daughter was murdered. Everybody came to the center. I’ve never, ever forgotten that. First time they ever did that. I’ll never forget it.”
Today Vickie is 59 years old and has been drug free for almost 25 years after battling an addiction to crack cocaine.
When asked what she’d like to say to those who donate to the Los Angeles Mission, Vickie said “You never know the difference that you make in a person’s life who’s going through a difficult time. I’m grateful.”