God's Second Chances Tonya “Don’t let fear and doubt stop you from going into something that could change the rest of your life”. These are the words of Tonya, a former member of the House of Hope, when asked if she had any advice for those considering entering the program. Tonya, who spent 2 years at the House, finished her initial 6 month phase and decided to stay for the safety and protection it provided. She was the first women’s leader at the House, working alongside Women’s Director Jennifer Beagle to nurture the environment and the relationships of the women in the program. Tonya entered the House of Hope after spending 5 years in prison, the last of which she begun a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. On Easter day of 2011, she asked Christ into her life and watched her world turn upside down. Tonya explains that after struggling with incarceration, drugs, and alcohol, Jesus completely changed her from the inside out, and she has no desire to go backwards. She talks about God’s ability to provide strength, and feels confident in her capability through Him, “as long as Jesus is by your side”. Tonya was given a 10 year probation sentence, and has completed 5 successfully. “Probation can be done if you want change”, she says. The bonds between the women at the House of Hope are unbreakable, according to Tonya. “I made some really great friends” she says, adding that she is still in contact with all the women she was in the House with. One of the greatest of these bonds is her relationship with Jennifer, who mentored her throughout her stay. “Jennifer did an amazing job” she says, explaining that the director was at times hard on her but in a necessary and effective way. While Tonya is now married and has moved out of the House, she still assists Jennifer with the program. Her new life of freedom from drugs and crime serves as a thriving example of God’s redeeming power.
Brooke After encounters with the law and months on the run, Brooke faced a minimum 15 year sentence. With a baby at home, she needed a second chance. Brooke courageously decided to do an open plea before the judge, saying it was God who led her to make this decision. Standing in the courtroom, she boldly proclaimed “I just want a chance to raise my baby”. House of Hope’s women’s director Jennifer Beagle argued on Brooke’s behalf. In a powerful letter, Jennifer demonstrated the positive change that can occur in 15 years, for she herself was 15 years sober, began running the House of Hope, gotten married and adopted children during this time. Remarkably, the judge sentenced Brooke to one year at the House of Hope. After reports of good behavior, she will be returning home in October and reunited with her little one. “Thank you for proving me wrong” she was told by a prosecutor. When asked about her experience at the House of Hope and her story in general, she proudly and confidently gave God the credit for her second chance. She speaks to God’s ability to provide redemption, new opportunities, and claims her experience has given her reassurance in her relationship with him. Brooke speaks highly of her bond with the other women at the House of Hope. “We are like sisters” she says. She appreciates the genuine and supportive environment, acknowledging that they at times have their conflicts, like any relationship. She has formed positive relationships with the other women who have experienced similar challenges and encounters with God. Excitement grips her as October approaches, when she will graduate from the House of Hope and be reunited with her child. God’s work through the House of Hope have given Brooke a new life and the precious opportunity to raise her little one.