Topeka Rescue Mission impacts life of community member

Fatima Oubaid

To some a bed and food seems like nothing but an everyday thing. To Lori Ross, a clothing assistant at Lets Help, it is something she is thankful for everyday.

Ross is a 55-year-old employee who found herself needing help from the Topeka Rescue Mission after family struggles and losing her boyfriend who was very close to her.

“After the death of my family my boyfriend took care of me. He was all I had and then he died of a heart attack,” said Ross. “I always had a man in my life to take care of me. So when everyone was gone I realized I had to take care of myself.”

After losing her loved ones, Ross lived by the Kansas River in a tent. Shortly after the river flooded Ross found herself with nothing.

“I always told myself I would never go to a mission because it was beneath me,” said Ross. “But when the flood happened I found myself at the Mission’s door at 5 a.m. The flood took everything and it almost even took me. They gave me dry clothes, a warm shower and a bed.”

Soon after, Ross got involved with the Service in Training program the Mission has to offer. Through the program she got a job at the Thrift Store at the Mission and was eventually able to get an apartment.

“I kind of messed that up by getting back into alcohol and lost my job at the thrift store,” said Ross. “But I was able to get sober with the help of the Mission and I realized I needed to change my life around.”

Ross now works for Lets Help and resides at the Rescue Mission. She wakes up early every morning, catches a bus to Lets Help and works until after noon. She then rides a bus back to the Mission or goes to the Topeka Public Library.

“Everyone at the Mission are people-oriented and Christian,” said Ross. “They are very spiritual and they want to see you succeed. If it wasn’t for them I don’t know if I would really be on this planet.”

Ross says she plans on taking computer classes to learn and apply different places for a job opportunity. Her big goal is to eventually have her own housing.

“I never thought I would see myself here [the Mission]. I went to Washburn, was educated and had good jobs,” said Ross. “Substance abuse will take you down a path where you can forget about a career and I hope the young students and people don’t wait to realize that when they’re 55 like I did.”