At Volunteers of America Southwest, we make a promise with everyone we meet to walk side by side with them until they reach where they need to be. Sometimes, that walk turns into a lifelong journey. We are lucky, in that we get to see miracles happen every day. This story is one such miracle that just so happened to work out for us, as well. This is Chandra’s story.
When Chandra Alessio walks in to work every day at the Renaissance Treatment Center, she isn’t just returning to her job, but also to the place where her life turned around. “I came to Volunteers of America a few times,” Chandra says. “I was a client when it was at the rescue mission, and then I came back here in National City a few more times. It’s always God’s timing.”
Chandra was once homeless, struggling with addiction since the age of 12, and dealing with imprisonment since 35. In and out of violent relationships and struggling to maintain connection with her family, Chandra says things started to turn around when she met her husband. “I was homeless for years sleeping in the park or in abandoned houses, then I met my husband. He was a nice man; that man took care of me on those streets. He was always there for me. Once his friend came into our lives and asked us if we wanted to live in his trailer. He had a couple of rules: no using and go to church.”
That was the beginning of what has now been 5 years clean and sober.
“The last time I came to Volunteers of America, I loved to listen to Gary and Al who were working here at that time, but Leo was my counselor. He is still working here, and I will never forget he always gave me hope and courage.” Little did she know at the time, but Chandra and Leo would one day become coworkers. “I never thought I would get here,” she says. “God told me, you need to apply at Volunteers of America. I did, they hired me, I jumped up and down.”
Chandra now works as a Monitor at the Renaissance Treatment Center in National City. A place where she once was in recovery, and now she gets to make a difference in the lives of people like her. Soon, she’ll transition to working as a Housing Specialist. And one other blessing has come back into her life.
“By God’s grace, I have my kids in my life. I have not had my son living with me since he was a baby. So, I wanted to come and show people what God has done in my life. Volunteers of America gave me hope and the people cared about me, and when I felt like giving up they helped me through it.”
Chandra’s story is like so many others. We’ve dedicated ourselves to helping those who are most vulnerable in our communities to return to a more productive, vibrant life. Whether a homeless veteran, an adult struggling with addiction, or a child in need of a better education, our light is always on for them.
If you’d like to learn more about our services, and how you can help, visit www.voasw.org today.