Changed Lives

Cole’s Story
“I’m a Completely Different Person”

For Cole, the choice was a no-brainer.

He could go back to jail and lose his job. Or he could go to Crossroads Mission Avenue and keep working. He didn’t have to think about it: Crossroads, of course.

Cole was fortunate to even be given a choice. He’d been in trouble with the law before, and spent two years in jail on multiple charges. When he was released in April 2020, he was on probation and warned to stay out of trouble. But a few months later, he was busted for driving while intoxicated. That’s when his probation officer gave him the choice.

On being given a second chance, Cole says, “I was really thankful.” Crossroads is all about second chances. We’re a place of grace. “They’re not judgmental,” says Cole, 27. “They don’t look down on you.”

Cole, a longtime alcoholic, hasn’t had a drink since that DUI. He credits Crossroads, and God, with his transformation. “I’m a completely different person,” he says. “I love being sober, and I have no desire to use again. I don’t need alcohol or drugs to set off good feelings in my brain. I’m really high on life right now.”

Cole, who is Native American, adhered to his culture’s spiritual beliefs for most of his life. But at Crossroads, he discovered Christianity, and has fully embraced it. “I’ve had a spiritual awakening,” he says. “Now I believe in the Holy Trinity — God, Son and Holy Spirit.” He’s motivated to stay sober. He has a good job in the manufacturing business, and he’s looking forward to getting his own place again.

“I’m just going to keep working hard,” he says. “Thanks to Crossroads, I’ve got a new view of life.”

Thank you for all you do to help people turn their lives around.

Serina’s Story
“They’re Wonderful!”

Serina couldn’t keep a job to save her life.

She would lose control at work — an outburst, a scream or physically lashing out — and get fired. She’d find another job, and the same thing would happen again. And again. “I was let go a lot,” she says.

Serina ended up homeless, wandering the streets. Her erratic behavior continued; she couldn’t keep it under control. She asked for help at Crossroads, where they took her to a doctor. And at 41 years old, Serina finally got an answer. She had Tourette syndrome. “I didn’t know I had it,” she says.

Crossroads worked with doctors to get Serina on the medication that would keep her condition under control, enabling her to live a more “normal” life.

“If it weren’t for Crossroads, I’d still be out on the street,” she says. “Those people are wonderful!”

For Serina and many others, you help neighbors in their time of need.

A volunteer’s experience – Mark’s Story
“It’s been an adventure!”, says Mark.
Sky and Kelsi’s Story
“Kelsi says if it weren’t for Crossroads, she wouldn’t have a brother anymore.”

Sometimes you’ve just got to show some tough love to those you love the most.

Sky was ruining his life, his health and his relationships with his drinking. His sister, Kelsi, had seen it all as a probation officer and knew a little something about caring for a person without enabling their bad habits.

“I did the hard love thing,” she says. “Not giving him money, not letting him stay at my place . . . ”

Sky interrupts: “Never ask her to buy cigarettes, that’s for sure!”

The siblings laugh, but then Kelsi turns serious again: “I totally thought I would be burying him.”

Sky doesn’t argue with that. His drinking had resulted in five arrests, contributed to the loss of his marriage, and ultimately led to homelessness.

At that point, he decided he had to make some changes. So he came to Crossroads Mission Avenue.

“I came here to quit drinking,” Sky says. That was July 16, 2020. He hasn’t had a drink since.

Sky’s success story goes beyond just sobriety. By December, he was on staff as the manager of the Crossroads probation house in Grand Island. In that role, he helps men who are on probation or parole to get back on their feet and find a job.

Their jobs rarely intersect — Sky is in Grand Island, Kelsi works for the probation office in Hastings — but they do sometimes “talk shop.”

But mostly, they’re just a brother and sister who care about each other very much.

Sky says if it weren’t for Kelsi, he’d have no relationship with his family. Kelsi says if weren’t for the Mission, she wouldn’t have a brother anymore.

“I believe they saved my brother’s life,” she says.

Thank you to Crossroads Mission Avenue’s loyal donors — for your support and for playing a role in these life-changing stories!

Carmon’s Story
“I Felt Like I Had Failed”

When it rains, it pours. Just ask Carmon. She was living in a basement apartment when the Great Flood of 2019 arrived. The waters rushed in, and she lost everything.

She found another place, but her hours at work were being cut, and it became cost prohibitive. She left that behind and moved into an extended-stay hotel, but it was infested with bedbugs.

Then the pandemic hit, and a couple of her adult children lost their jobs. Carmon depleted all of her savings trying to help them stay afloat. Out of money and options, Carmon turned to Crossroads for help.

“At first I was like, Why am I here?,” she says. “I felt like I had failed. I couldn’t imagine what I had done to deserve this, because I was trying to do the right things.” But life had hit hard, and Carmon was grateful to have a safe place to land.

“The staff here is amazing and so supportive,” she says. “And I know The Man Upstairs is going to take care of me. I know that. I’m just trying to learn to turn it all over to him, which is hard for me, because I’m one of those control people.”

Carmon was about to lose control of one more thing: Her company eliminated her job last summer, while she was at the Mission. But it wasn’t long before God provided her with a new job, even closer to home.

She’s renting one of the reduced-rate apartments at Crossroads until she can save up some money, buy a car and get back out on her own again. Till then, she’s thankful for the Mission.

“I’m excited about the future,” she says. “I’m glad Crossroads is here.”

She’s glad for the support of friends like you, too. Thank you for being there!

Mohamed’s Story
“On the Right Path Now”

Mohamed knows what it’s like to be homeless with no place to go. After all, he was born that way.

He was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, where his family had landed after fleeing war-torn Somalia, where several families members had been killed. When Mohamed was about a year old, his family came to the United States, seeking safety and opportunity.

Mohamed’s father deserted the family almost right away, leaving the little boy to grow up without a dad. “I never really knew him,” Mohamed says. “I had no guidance, no role model.”

As Mohamed grew into his teens, he started getting into mischief and minor trouble. By the time he was 17, he was into drugs and frequent brushes with the law. At 20, he was convicted for theft and failure to appear in court, and sentenced to two years in prison.

When he was released early this year, once more he was like a refugee with no place to go … till someone pointed him to Crossroads.

“I came here with nothing but the clothes on my back,” Mohamed says. “But once I got here, they were a big help.”

In addition to providing food, shelter and clothes, the Mission helped Mohamed land a job as a butcher at the JBS Meat Plant in Grand Island.

Mohamed says without Crossroads, “I probably would’ve died, or went back to prison. I’m definitely on the right path now.”

Thank you for helping people who are lost find the right path!

Rolland’s Story
“I Fell off the Deep End”

Rolland’s father was murdered when he was three years old, and that memory haunted him throughout his childhood.

He rebelled as a teen, and went to prison at 17 on a breaking-and-entering charge. When he was released six years later, Rolland managed to turn his life around — working as an electrician, getting married and even having kids.

“Everything was good until my little brother died,” he says. Rolland was 43 when a heart attack took his brother’s life. Shortly after, his mother and his grandparents died as well. “And then I just fell off the deep end. I really lost my mind,” he recalls.

The next decade was a blur of drinking and drugs until Rolland ended up living under a bridge for three years. One day, seeing his plight, a woman gave him $20 and a book of daily devotions.

“I read the passage for that day,” Rolland says. “And it said don’t let go of Jesus’ hand.”

Rolland didn’t let go, and he eventually ended up at Crossroads, where he’s turning things around. “I’m really grateful for Crossroads,” he says. “I know Jesus led me here, and he’s going to help me through.”

You can help people like Rolland find a new life!

Vanessa’s Story
“When I was at my lowest, Crossroads came through for me!”

Everybody falls on hard times, but do you know where can you turn for help??

In the midst of picking up the pieces after her sister’s death, Vanessa was in a serious car accident.  Brake failure caused an accident which totaled her car, and she was left without transportation.

Through a collaboration with Salvation Army, Crossroads Mission Avenue was able to help.  A generous donor had given a car to Crossroads, which provided for her need!

Vanessa is so grateful, sharing, “When I was at my lowest and thought all hope was lost, Crossroads came through for me!  I am so blessed that there are people out there who help those in need!”

Robert’s Story
“I Don’t Want to Let Them Down”

Robert, 55, has lost count of how many times he’s been to Crossroads Mission Avenue over the last 10 years or so.

Each time, it’s been for the same reason. “Drinking,” he says. And each time he’s left, same reason: “Drinking.” And never in moderation.

“When I drink, I take it to the max,” he admits. “I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost jobs, I’ve been kicked out of bars, all from drinking too much and acting stupid.”

Robert has recently come to believe he’s been repressing anger and trauma from his childhood. He vividly remembers his father abusing his mother when he was just 3. And he recalls his mom saying cruel things to him during his teenage years.

“But when I drink, all that goes away,” he says. “No cares, nothing.”

Robert likes coming to the Mission because, he says, “They always give you a chance to redeem yourself.” Each time he returns, he builds on his experience and gets a little closer to victory over his past.

This time, he’s been here for nine months and has worked his way up to a position of leadership. He makes out the list of daily chores and serves as an on-call worker at night. He also has the gift of empathy, especially for those with mental health issues. And he has a calming manner.

This Christmas season, Robert particularly embraces the gift of grace he’s found at the Mission, and he’s more committed than ever to remaining sober. He’s almost 200 days clean!

“I don’t want to let the Mission down,” he says, “because they’ve been so good to me.”

You inspire positive change for folks in recovery. Thank you for showing them the compassion they need.

Update to Alena’s Story
“I’ve Started a New Life”

The 1990s were a terrible, tragic time in Russia.

Though communism had been abolished, the country spun into economic and cultural chaos. Crime and lawlessness prevailed. The economy was in shambles. Things got so bad, average life expectancy went down.

Yevgeniy had wanted to get his family out for some time. When his wife suffered a debilitating accident at work and was unable to get the medical care she needed, Yevgeniy felt even more urgency to leave. So he packed up the family and set off for a new life — first in Canada, and then in the U.S. The family of five, including two sons and a daughter, would find a place to start fresh … and hopefully get the medical attention Yevgeniy’s wife needed.

Unfortunately, the dream never materialized. Yevgeniy’s wife never got better, Yevgeniy’s own health started to decline as well and the bulk of the home duties — cooking, cleaning and caring for her parents and brothers — fell to their young daughter, Alena.

Alena, overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a caregiver, started using drugs to cope. Then, when her mother died in 2012, Alena fell hard into a heroin habit. Yevgeniy, devastated by his wife’s death, drank heavily to cope. “Her death knocked me off my feet,” he says. “I never understood loneliness until she passed. I felt really lost. Drinking helped me relax and helped me cope with my feelings.”

The family was in bad shape. Alena ended up in prison on a drug charge, serving two years. When she was released in 2020, she ended up at Crossroads. Here, she received help kicking her drug habit, getting back on her feet and changing her life dramatically for the better. She wanted that same transformation for her father.

Since Yevgeniy also came to Crossroads, he has turned his life around, too. He has quit drinking, he’s much happier, and his relationship with his children — all adults now — has significantly improved. Particularly with Alena.

“Today, my state of mind is feeling freedom,” Yevgeniy says. “I feel like I’ve started a new life, but I know my time is running out.”

Yevgeniy has numerous health issues. And while medical intervention has helped, he is now living with Alena and her boyfriend, who care for Yevgeniy. Their father-daughter relationship is stronger than ever.

“My whole life, my dad was absent — not physically, but emotionally and mentally,” says Alena. “We never had any conversation. But now, we sit down and have great conversation. You can see in his face that he’s happy. It’s such a good feeling to have a relationship with your parent that you’ve known all your life, but you feel like you just met.”

You help people find a new life at Crossroads. Thank you for giving people the hope of renewal!