Lealea was content. Living with her three children in Oklahoma City, she had a steady job and a family she could count on. When two of her beloved relatives passed, Lealea was overcome with grief and struggled to keep up with life’s demands. This was the beginning of her slow unraveling.
Lealea has fond memories of her childhood. “I always smiled a lot,” she recalls, “wanted to be in everybody’s pictures.” Even after her parents’ divorce, she always saw the cup as half full. “It wasn’t bad. I enjoyed both sides,” she says. She kept smiling and made the best of it. Over the years, Lealea forged a very strong relationship with her father. “He was the one person I could call and talk to,” she says. His passing was tragic for Lealea. While she was still grieving the death of her father, she got news of her aunt’s passing.
“I didn’t handle it as well as I thought I would,” she explains. “I went to Texas to see my mom.” After the sudden passing of two loved ones, Lealea began worrying about her mother. The family support system that she had always cherished was being threatened and that was terrifying. “I was just really having a hard time coping,” she says.
Lealea ended up staying in Texas for the entire summer. When she returned to Oklahoma with her children, she had been evicted from her home and fired from her job because of her extended absence. To make matters worse, her car died. “It was like dominoes,” says Lealea. She became homeless with her children and turned to her pastor for guidance. On the night of August 9, they came to City Rescue Mission.
“I’ll never forget it,” Lealea says. “I told my kids, ‘I know you’re not where you’re used to being. Just hold on until the morning and I can see what they’re gonna do for us.’” She said a burden was lifted off her shoulders that very next morning when the Mission staff told her,
“We have a place for you.”
With a renewed spirit and newfound strength, Lealea is forging ahead. She is now working on the maintenance team at a local hospital. “I’ve been working there for three months,” she says. “It lets me save money. I’m grateful for that.” Now, she’s searching for her own place. Throughout this family’s journey at City Rescue Mission, Lealea and her children have supported each other every step of the way. She recently had a very touching conversation with her son, Tre. “He said, ‘Thank you for this time to see a different side of not always having something and not being afraid to ask for help.’” It seems that this experience has encouraged them all to cherish each and every one of God’s precious gifts.