Rescue Mission Shelter Manager shares a story of reclaiming independence and self-worth

Digital Originals

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On Tuesday, while wrapping up a few interviews with the Rescue Mission of Roanoke, Suzanne Cook, Shelter Manager of the Women and Children’s Center (WCC) told a story of a street-homeless guest who overcame many obstacles and is now in a much better place than she was when she arrived at the Rescue Mission.

“There was a gal who was street-homeless, and what I mean by that is we have people in shelter that are considered homeless, but they’re sheltered – so, she was living on the street, street-homeless.”

Suzanne Cook – Shelter Manager – WCC – Rescue Mission

Like many homeless people who show up at the Rescue Mission, she was reluctant to stay the night, but eventually, it became a safety concern.

“We had talked about how we could keep her on campus, cause we were really scared for her to leave during the night, ’cause one day she when she had come, she had a big black eye on her and we said, ‘What happened?’ She said some guys just wanted to hit me because they could. They got out of a car, punched her in the face, they got in the car and they left. I said, ‘would you please come and stay the night?’ So, finally, she [did].”

Suzanne Cook – Shelter Manager – WCC – Rescue Mission

After a while longer, the guest started opening up more with the staff and other volunteers through helping out around the Rescue Mission.

“We wanted to hold on to her during the day, so the Director at the DRC, which is the Donation Center, said ‘We’ll take her!’ So, during the day, she would go and she would process donations that people would give. That really sparked something in her even more so than taking a shower, because she had something to do. She had a place to go, she had expectations of her. We’d walk her over after breakfast. She had a job.”

Suzanne Cook – Shelter Manager – WCC – Rescue Mission

After getting some additional help from other local programs, she left and found her own apartment. About a month and a half ago, this former street-homeless guest of the Rescue Mission returned to say hello.

“Somebody came through the door and I immediately was like, because nobody, because of quarantine, you can’t just come through the door. We have to buzz you in, we gotta take your temperature [and] it was her! [I] didn’t even recognize her. She had a haircut, she was clean. She had probably gained about 10 pounds. She was smiling, she was happy, and I said, ‘What’s up girl, what are you doing?! I’m so happy to see you!’ and she said, ‘I came to say thank you.'”

Suzanne Cook – Shelter Manager – WCC – Rescue Mission

For more information on or to donate to the Rescue Mission of Roanoke, check out its website by clicking here.

If you’d like to help out the Rescue Mission, click here to see its Amazon Wish List.

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