Evangel Home became part of the Fresno community in 1955. The ripples sent from this ministry have not only changed thousands of lives, but also affected generations. One such life is Elizabeth.The scene is Christmas 1976. A mother and five children stand on the front porch. The only little girl in the group, 7-year old Elizabeth, peers into the windows. Inside the big house, a Christmas party is coming to an end. A staff member is handing out toys and hugging the children. Elizabeth’s family is not in time for the party, but the staff member spots them and later gives the little girl a doll, which becomes her treasured friend.

Twenty years go by and the little girl is now married with two little girls of her own. She is taking a class at California State University, Fresno and needs some volunteer hours to fulfill the requirements. She remembers the place where she spent Christmas so long ago and calls to ask if she can complete her class assignment there.

She came in for an interview and asked a question probably no other volunteer has ever asked. She said, “May I see bedroom No. 1? I used to live there.”

“You lived here,” the interviewer asked. “Yes. In this very room.”

A class assignment for this now-adult woman brought up a memory of the gift of a doll (which she named Crystal and still has) and a place that made her feel loved and secure as a child. What was to have been a 10-hour assignment led to 160 hours of volunteer service, then to a part-time position. Now she is a full-time house manager.

The little girl who once stood at the door and knocked, now stands on the inside to open that same door and welcome others to the safety and warmth she experienced in her time of trouble.

Elizabeth once said that when she sees little kids running around Evangel Home, she remembers when she did the same thing. She also remembers their concerns and says, “I know what it feels like to be homeless and so alone…to worry about where I’m going next and what’s going to become of me.”

“What’s going to become of me?” No child should ever have to worry about that.

Elizabeth found love and stability at Evangel Home and now she helps provide that to others. She still remembers learning Jesus Loves Me…a song she didn’t know until our staff taught it to her. Years later, she taught it to her own daughters.

Her life today lives out her message: “There are other Elizabeths out there, and you just don’t know what a toy or a song might do. You just don’t know what your actions do for someone else.”

Elizabeth
Garden Program Graduate

I lived all of my young adult life, and a large part of my adult life, as an addict without direction or any sense of belonging. Prostitution was how I made a living (what I called a living at the time).That lifestyle landed me in jail, and I was “sentenced” to Evangel Home’s GARDEN program. It ended up being the greatest thing that could have happened in my life. I came to the GARDEN in 2000. I came with all my secrets and garbage.

I received an education from the Home that is priceless. I was taught how to deal honestly with my issues as a whole and how to live life on better terms−dealing with both the good and bad. I received a solid foundation to stand upon and the tools to build on that foundation. I was firmly planted and rooted in love, something that I really knew very little about.

I graduated from the GARDEN and had just moved into the Community Connection (graduate) program when my foundation would be shaken. My son, Capers, was murdered in a random shooting in July 2001. I could literally feel my heart melt inside of me and fade away. At his bedside, on my knees, I begged God to give him another chance because I could not bear this pain.

Philippians 4:13 came running to the forefront of my mind right then and I thanked God for what he had done in my live. That verse is printed on Evangel Home graduation diplomas, and it says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

I soon realized that my son was given something greater than another chance in this life that day. He was at my graduation just a few weeks earlier and had even brought flowers with my younger son, Benjamin. He had been given the opportunity to see his mom living the right way before he died.

My life has most certainly been a constant change since the death of my son. I cannot tell you where I mighty be if I hadn’t been at Evangel Home when this tragedy happened.

Today I am a proud member of the Evangel Home staff (part-time) working side by side with those women who fed, encouraged and loved me where I was. I’ve been given an opportunity to give something back. Today I belong to the Evangel Home and I have a good sense of direction.

I am currently employed at Evangel Home.

Roslyn
Garden Program Graduate

Going through our box of treasures the other day, and we found this newspaper clipping in an envelope. This is early 1955. We opened in February of that year in a house that is literally a stone’s throw from our current facilities. Wonder what these three wonderful people would say if they could visit us today? Do you realize how committed and unconventional they had to be in order to have had the courage to found Evangel Home? Thank God for their devotion.

In 1990 Anthi Renteria was our neighborhood bag lady. She ate and slept in dumpsters, was strung out on drugs, and survived by relying on the kindness of neighbors – and strangers. Eventually Anthi got cleaned up enough to come to the front door of Evangel Home and seek help. Although she never entered one of our long term programs, she entered our hearts and we began a special relationship that lasted until the day she died in July of 2016. Anthi is one of many. She and the rest of the women on this page all graduated from Evangel Home. Their graduation date is listed with their name.

We know that other graduates have most likely passed away, but we have not been told. So if you know of a woman who graduated from CrossRoads (formerly called the Extension Program) or the GARDEN, please let us know. We would like to pay tribute to them also.