Testimony of the Month

Jennie Stanley picture for newsletter

JENNIE STANLEY: A Mother Gets off "The Block"

I remember the night God began to change me.

I had been living on “The Block,” that’s what my homeless friends and I call the Rio Grande area of Salt Lake. I was doing whatever I could to get crack and heroin and felt spiritually dead, like a ghost of my own self.

It was a year ago on a hot August night and I was sober enough to realize I was hungry. I walked down to the Rescue Mission for the nightly meal. Before each meal a local pastor comes and shares a message at the nightly chapel.

I had heard these messages before but this night, everything the pastor said seemed like it was just to me. It was like he knew me. By the end of the sermon I was on the floor crying. I told people that I wanted to give my life to Jesus. It was as if God had plucked me right off The Block that night.

I continued to live on the streets for about a month, but I didn’t like getting high anymore. I still used drugs but almost just out of habit. I wasn’t really using enough to get high. I could tell God was changing me. Still, I had nowhere to go and was living on the streets when the cops arrested me for possession and put me in jail last September.

I stayed in jail for a few months while I waited for my Presentencing Report (this is the report Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) puts together for the judge). I had talked to AP&P and told them I wanted to be released to the Rescue Mission. I told her that they could help me. I said that something faith-based where I could learn more about God was what I needed.

A few days before Thanksgiving (about a week before I was set to see the judge in my case) the report came down. It recommended I spend 365 days in jail. I was shocked and started crying. I went upstairs in the jail and began to pray. I told God that if He wanted me to spend a year in jail I would do it.

The next day, out of the blue, they took me out of jail and drove me to the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Facility. I was amazed. It seems like God got me out of there, just after I had yielded to Him and told Him I would accept whatever He had in store for me.

When I went to court the next week the judge said that since I was already out and in treatment he would let me continue as long as I stayed in the Mission’s New Life Program and consistently checked in with my probation officer

I can’t believe how my life has changed in the past year. I have tried to get sober so many times, but I had never tried Jesus before. He is the one who has changed me. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I say, “Who is this lady. Who is this person?” I like the new me but I can’t even believe the drastic change that has occurred.

I am calmer now. I used to be loud and talk a lot in order to push people away. I used a fake, over-the-top personality to shield myself from having to be real or develop close relationships with people. I am learning to be more quite, authentic, and vulnerable. I don’t have to try so hard to prove that I am somebody because I know that in Jesus I have worth.

Through the Mission’s Bible studies I have learned about God’s characteristics. Prior to knowing what God is like I never really understood that I am truly loved. I love going to my home church, Capitol Church, and meeting with my mentor, BetteJean, who goes out with me to eat and watch movies and feels like a real friend.

Now I go down to “The Block” and I can’t believe I used to live like that. There are people using drugs, lying on the street, doing nothing all day. That used to be me. I remember all the times I was robbed on the streets. Once, a lady stole my wallet and my “teeth.” I had been given a set of custom dentures that were fit just for my month. They were very expensive but useless to anyone else and this lady knew that. She beat me, then took those dentures from me just for spite.

That’s what’s life is like on the streets. My whole life has been a little like that. My parents were drug addicts and I started using when I was just eleven years old. I was wild. I wouldn’t listen to anyone and just partied. Various family members would try to take care of me, until they got so sick of me they would send me to live with another uncle or aunt or grandma.

I was pregnant at 15 and have had six kids, all while not being a great mom to any of them. Both my parents are dead and my one brother committed suicide. In my many relationships I have been physically and sexually abused and it’s hard for me to know why God kept me alive for all these years.

But today I do see that God is loving and has a plan for my life.

As I have been sober this past year, some of my children want to have a relationship with me again and I even get to spend time with some of them. My kids range in age from 29 to 10. My youngest daughter lives in St. George with her aunt and loves to see me whenever they are in town. I am blessed by that. My oldest daughter is also one of my biggest supporters.

I am praying that God can help me rebuild my relationships with some of my other kids who don’t want to have anything to do with me at this time. They are right not to trust me because I have let them down so many times. I want to respect their boundaries and their wishes. By staying sober, praying, and trusting God, I know that He will work out any relationships I have in the future according to His will.

Recently, the couple who served at the House Parents of the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Facility decided to retire. They lived in a small apartment behind the Women’s Facility. I have done so well in the New Life Program that the Mission has agreed to let me do an internship. If I do a good job in this internship, the Mission will consider making me the new House Parent of the Women’s Facility.

So that is my goal right now. Continue to do well, complete the New Life Program and my internship, and then move into that apartment, serving as the House Parent of the Women’s Facility. I want to give back and feel that I have a lot to offer other women who are experiencing homelessness, abuse, and addiction. I have been through it all and know that the answer out of that dark hole is Jesus. I want to share that message of hope and help people.

Please pray for me when you remember my story. Pray that God would continue to lead me and guide me and keep me walking with him as I continue to make this transition. And thank you for helping me off The Block!




Operation Rio Grande has been in the news a lot. Businesses and people are landing on both sides of the issue. Some have said the homeless are being targeted, picked on, and are concerned that individual liberties are being trampled. Others say that it’s about time something was done and that certain sections of downtown become unbearable when the homeless have too large of an effect on local businesses and residents.

From the Rescue Mission I watch the increased level of police on the streets, the helicopter flying overhead and the occasional car being pulled over after driving through known drug dealing area.

And while some things seem different about Operation Rio Grande, others seem very familiar. Previous initiatives included various one-day sting operations with a focus on the number of arrests made and citations issued. One thing is for certain, with the recent increase in urban camping, panhandling and criminal behavior (notably three violent crimes in two weeks) something had to change.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Safety Commissioner Keith Squire, under the direction of Gov. Gary Herbert, have brought state resources to bolster the efforts of Salt Lake City and County, culminating in Operation Rio Grande. Our civic leaders promise that this will be a “sustained effort” for at least two years with a three phase plan of, 1) restoring public safety, 2) assessment and treatment, and 3) employment.

The focus on public safety is to remove the criminal element that is hiding among and preying upon the homeless community. It’s very difficult to change your life when a drug dealer is tempting you, often with free drugs, just to keep you an addicted customer. The second phase focuses on mental health and addiction assessment followed by treatment. And thirdly there is a dignity-to-work program.

All this causes me to wonder if “Operation Homeless Friends” would have been a better name? The primary focus of the entire initiative is to greatly reduce the element that is hurting our homeless friends, as well as our entire community, and then help our homeless friends reach their highest capacity in life through recovery services and job placement. In fact, the entire operation is being done in collaboration with homeless service providers and legal advisors to ensure our homeless friends are truly being cared for and their civil rights are protected.

For decades the Rescue Mission’s efforts have been focused on Four “R’s,” Rescue, Redemption, Recovery and Re-Entry. Operation Rio Grande’s three phases fits nicely into the Rescue Mission’s focus on Rescuing people out of their difficult life situation, helping them obtain and maintain Recovery and then a Re-Entry into the community as a productive member of society. So we support the approach of “Operation Homeless Friends” and hope its application will be executed well. As a faith-based, privately-funded homeless service provider, we welcome the increased collaboration of city, county and state leadership to help create a greater community ethos of “Restoring Broken Lives.”

God bless you,

Chris D. Croswhite

Executive Director




June Stats




Here at the Rescue Mission we want to thank our supporters for their life changing contributions to helping our homeless friends off the street. In this edition of the Rescuer, we bring you the testimony of a women who had her life changed after living on "The Block" (The Rio Grande area of downtown Salt Lake) and coming to the Rescue Mission for a meal.

We also voiced our support for "Operation Rio Grande" while suggesting a slight name change! But with all the talk about homelessness, especially in the Rio Grande neighborhood of downtown, we want to thank you, our faithful supporters for the difference you have made and continue to make in the lives of real people on the streets. You also help to prevent people from ever reaching the streets by supporting our food box and homeless prevention programs.

Since 1972 the Rescue Mission has been downtown providing food, shelter, clothing, and a pathway into housing and employment for our homeless friends. We don’t receive government funding to provide these services but instead are supported by you! Your support allows us to unabashedly share the message of God’s love and forgiveness while providing these services free of charge, even to people who are court-ordered to our New Life Program.

Thank you for all your continued support and remember to consider our Early Bird Thanksgiving campaign. We need your support today so we can serve everyone during our approaching busy season. Donate here or call our donor relations office @ 801.746.1006 to give via credit card over the phone. You are a blessing to us.

pdfRescuer September 2017

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