A Light at the End of the Tunnel

T'kora on a park bench telling her story

A Life of Challenges and Heartache Ends in Triumph

One night when T’kora was 17, she woke to the sound of her Mom screaming.  She grabbed a golf club and ran to her parents’ bedroom.  Her Dad was beating her Mom.  “He’d been choking her all night,” she explained.  “There was a body-sized hole in the wall where he’d thrown her through it, and when he looked at me, he had red, bloodshot eyes like the devil himself.  ”T’kora threatened to hit him with the golf club, and eventually, he relented.  “I feel bad for my Mom,” T’kora said.  “I want her to be happy, but my Dad stole her happiness. It breaks my heart."  

T’kora grew up in Greenwood, SC. “I really didn’t have a childhood,” she explained.  “My Dad took that from me.  He was very abusive.”At night, her Dad would have his friends over to the house, and he’d make T’kora and her brother, who was 9 months younger, fight for their entertainment.  “His friends would yell and scream.  They’d throw money at us and make us hurt each other and hit each other.  It ruined my relationship with my brother.  We can’t even look at each other."   

To self-medicate, T’kora started stealing pills and alcohol from her Dad, and she was only twelve when she started cutting herself to dull the emotional pain.  “When I was 15, I cut myself up real bad.  ”At seventeen, she got her first job and was able to save up enough money to move out on her own.  Unfortunately, she moved right into another abusive situation, which lasted for five years.  Of that time in her life, T’kora said, “I was doing drugs all day, every day."  

Eventually, she moved to Harrisburg with a family that promised to help her.  While living there, T’kora was given all the alcohol and marijuana she could ever want, which was a bad situation for someone who had been self-medicating for years.  She was struggling with PTSD, bipolar, and depression.  “The family I was staying with couldn’t deal with that,” she said, and tensions began to escalate.  Eventually, she started cutting herself again, but she found the strength to admit herself to a psychiatric hospital, where she was able to detox. 

She has been clean and sober ever since – that was last March.  From there, she moved onto rehab and then a halfway house for six months.  At the end of her time there, she had nowhere to live. Her counselors encouraged her to go to City Mission.“City Mission means the world to me,” she said after almost 11 months in the program. “I’ve grown so much. I think differently. I walk differently. My confidence is through the roof. Living at City Mission makes me realize I’m capable of so much more than I ever thought I was.”“I’m growing in every way,” she said. “Even my family sees it. It’s hard for my Mom that I’m so far away, but she doesn’t worry about me so much any more. She even said she’s proud of me, and that means a lot.”“There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I have a new perspective on life, and I finally see a future for myself.” Within the next few months, T’kora plans to go back to school and pursue a degree in therapy.

October 2, 2018
Susan Gartland - Social Media Manager
Sue Gartland
Social Media Manager
Sue has a vast career in gospel rescue missions adding great value to the City Mission team. Sue has been in many roles in the mission and is always filling in where she is needed - which is A LOT!

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A New Lease on Life

Resident 'Tim' takes a smoke break
June 12, 2020

“A New Lease on Life” In 2018, Tim, an Air Force veteran, was living in a hotel behind a bar. He had lost his Mom and his job of nearly twenty years in 2010, and his life had been slowly unraveling ever since. “Before I came here,” he said, “there wasn’t a single activity in my life that didn’t involve a drink – even taking a shower.” On July 6, he tripped over a pine root in the dark and broke his hip. “I was intoxicated,” he explained. “I haven’t had a drink since that night. That just woke me up. I firmly believe God laid His hand on me.” That freak accident eventually led him to City Mission, where, in August 2018, after hip surgery and eight weeks in physical therapy, he began the work of healing his mind, body, and spirit. Tim was born and raised in Monongahela. His Dad, who had been a Navy gunner in World War Two, was a crane operator for a steel mill in McKeesport, and his Mom was a Registered Nurse for a local hospital. He spent 12 years in Catholic School and received an excellent education. After graduation, he knew he needed a change of scenery after dabbling with drugs and alcohol his last few years of high school. Also, his dad foresaw the closing of local mills and knew that times would be hard financially in the Mon Valley for years to come, so Tim joined the Air Force, attending Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. After Basic Training, he trained to be an Air Crew Life Support Specialist. He would pack and maintain emergency items for the flight crew, such as flight helmets and survival kits – a job requiring significant attention to detail. In 1991, several years after leaving the military and returning home to the Mon Valley, he began working as a custodian for a school district in the South Hills, and he worked there for nearly twenty years. “It was the best job I ever had,” he said. “It wasn’t a high-paying job, but I really liked the people I worked with. It was very close-knit. And it was something different every day. It was the only job I ever had when I didn’t dread going to work.” Then in 2003, his drinking started to become more and more of a problem. “It was my own fault,” he said. “I can’t blame anyone but myself.” In 2010, he went to rehab, but he couldn’t complete the outpatient part of the program, because his mother, who had been ill, passed away. Completing the program was a requirement for returning to work, so he lost his job. Devastated, he moved to Oklahoma with his sister just to get away and start fresh, but that only lasted a few years. “This is home,” he explained. “The roots are sunk deep.” He moved back to the Mon Valley, but with his family all gone, he had nowhere to stay, so he lived for the next five years in a hotel behind a bar until the night he fell and broke his hip. He came to City Mission in August of 2018 and then moved into the Crabtree Kovacicek Veterans House that October. “This place affords you all the opportunities you need to heal,” he said. “It’s not a homeless shelter in the way you think. They offer career placement and medical care and classes. It’s a place to heal your mind, body, and spirit. When you heal physically, it helps with your recovery, and that helps you re-establish your relationship with Christ. And you’re just a walking shell unless you have a relationship with Christ. Mind, body, and spirit -- they all three mesh together.” “City Mission gave me a sense of self-worth and put me back in touch with the Lord,” he added. “Knowing that I could be of service is important to me. I just want to do something positive, effect positive change, and I know I’ve made positive contributions here.” “At the Crabtree House, we have confidence and self-respect. Perhaps it’s from our military experience. We’re all brother veterans, all working together for the betterment of all. I’m grateful to be able to have a sense of pride in something. And we take pride in that house.” “Thanks for saving my life,” he said to all the staff at City Mission. “For giving me a new lease on life.”