Stories of Transformation: Cassandra

On the surface, it can seem like so much of the pain and suffering we see on the streets can be attributed to poor choices. But if you look closer, you’ll often find that those choices aren’t new – many are passed down from generation to generation. While it’s true that Cassandra made the choice to start using marijuana at 12, to move onto harder drugs after high school and later, become a dealer in order to stay high – yet, whether she knew it or not – she was following the same path her mother followed a generation before. Thankfully, because of friends like you, Cassandra isn’t doomed to follow those footsteps any longer. Instead,
she’s been given something her mother never had access to – a clear path to breaking the cycle once and for all.

Cassandra was 10 years old when she started learning the patterns that would shape the rest of her life. Her mother was young back then, 25, and lived a party lifestyle, often selling drugs in addition to working a full time job to keep the party going. Left alone to babysit her 4- and 5-year-old brothers, Cassandra had all the unsupervised time she needed to experiment with the stash her mother left behind. It was the first link in a long chain of addiction. For the next forty years, the combination of drug use and repeated attempts to emulate her mother’s lifestyle cost her job after job, home after home, even her freedom at times, landing her in prison on multiple occasions. “When you are high all the time, it’s the bad ideas that seem to rise to the top – make you think that you can do things other than work,” Cassandra admits. “I’d tell myself, if I lose a job, it’s ok, I can always go hustle and make the money I need. But things started getting harder… I mean I thought at the time they were getting easier because I was doing whatever I wanted to do, but really, I was just sinking deeper and deeper.”

Eventually she lost everything. For four years, Cassandra was homeless – sleeping on couches, floors, the street, whatever she could find. She began racking up fines and misdemeanors, eventually earning a warrant for her arrest. The police caught up with her in January of 2016. That’s when you stepped in and gave Cassandra the chance to break the cycle. “My parole officer recommended the [Phoenix Rescue Mission’s] Changing Lives Center,” says Cassandra. “I thought, OK, I’ll just stay 6 months and I’ll be clean enough to get back out there, go back to work. But near the end of those 6 months… I started to feel different.” Cassandra got more than she bargained for. She was hoping the Changing Lives Center would help her get clean, but what she never expected was an encounter with God. “Because of the type of life I’ve lived, I was never one to pray… and I still don’t feel like I have the right words to really tell Him what I want to say. But thanks to this place I’m learning! I’m starting to feel new things that I don’t understand. My heart is softening… that’s the Holy Spirit working on me. I’m not the same person I was when I came in here.”

Thanks to you and the hard work of our counselors and staff, Cassandra is not only a graduate of our recovery program and a new creation in Christ; she’s forging a new path forward. Cassandra took advantage of our ServeSafe culinary program while she was in recovery – a program designed to both teach our women the skills required to work in the food service industry and earning them the certification to back it up! Since Cassandra earned her certification, she’s been putting what she’s learned to use as a part of our Mission Cookies and Mission Catering Social Enterprises. “We bake thousands of cookies, but we also put together roast beef sandwiches, chicken chipotle wraps, turkey pesto sandwiches, all kinds of dishes that we use to cater lunches and dinners through Mission Possible Catering (contact Michelle at or (602) 346-6220) to learn more).

I’m hoping to go into food management and work with a team in a restaurant, so this is great practice.” For 40 years Cassandra had been bound to addiction, to choices that brought her heartache and grief over and over again. But no longer. Thanks to you she’s clean, she’s saved, she’s got a plan and she’s busy building the kind of resumé that will help her fulfill her dreams. That’s more than just recovery, that’s transformation! Thank you for the support that not only breaks the cycle for so many men, women and children, but goes a step further and gives them the tools to keep it broken!