Home The Salvation Army Back to Story List

Delivery From Despair, A Salvation Army Story of Success!
by Eloise Montemayor ... TSA Grants Administrator/Public Relations
published September 2016



Her soft voice and sweet smile always captured my attention when she greeted staff and other clients at The Salvation Army. I learned that her smile reflected the peace she found after traumatic situations she experienced in her childhood and in her adult years. To respect her request, I will not reveal details of those experiences, but I will share her journey to The Salvation Army in McAllen.

Ms. Sepriana Ledda, a former shelter client at The Salvation Army, managed to live on through her adult years in California where she grew up even after her first traumatic experience. She had her siblings nearby, a full time job, and a house she shared with her partner. However, after another awful experience that mirrored the one she went through as a child, she lost hope and trust in others. Immediately, Ledda resorted to drugs to cope with her problems. She smoked 2 to 3 packs of cigarettes daily and drank all the time. She spent all of her income tax return on one ounce of meth and smoked all of it in one night. She believes that only God kept her sane after that. Ledda eventually lost her job and became homeless. One day someone offered her a job and access to more drugs. So she accepted the offer to traffic drugs across the border. After a couple of times that she participated in this illegal activity, she could not handle it any longer.

"If you really actually exist and you actually really love me, then take this all away from me," Ledda cried out. She remembers saying this to God as she sat on the edge of a bridge in Mexico before she crossed back into the U.S. But what she was really asking for was for God to somehow make it possible for her life to end. Soon after her cry for help, Ledda was caught at one of the U.S.-Mexico international bridges with meth worth a quarter of a million dollars. She was sentenced to federal prison for 10 years.

"God had a different plan for me," Ledda said. "I did not go through any drug withdrawals, any alcohol withdrawals or even nicotine withdrawals while in prison, that was all God. He's the one who kept me sane through all of this, I went into prison as a criminal but I did not want to leave prison the same person. I wanted to change."

After her time in prison, she was sent to the halfway house in Edinburg for six months. When she was released, she had nowhere to go in The Valley. A staff member from the halfway house referred her to The Salvation Army's shelter. At the shelter, she met staff member Norma Resendiz. "Norma and Armando [Norma's husband] were a God-send for me," Ledda said. "I could talk to them and they would always listen. They were a huge help to me since I knew no one down here."

At The Salvation Army, Ledda received her meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for the three months she stayed in the shelter. She also received clothing vouchers. Furthermore, she volunteered at the kitchen and store. Then, with the help of Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, Ledda was able to move on into her own apartment and get additional help. Today, she continues to volunteer at The Salvation Army on her days off from work.

"Even if I can only reach just one person out there who feels so lost, I would hope that my story will show them that it's not worth getting involved in illegal activity. The law and federal prison do not play around, they will sentence you to years. Those are years you could be spending with family or doing something better with your life."

The Salvation Army Emergency Night Shelter welcomes anyone needing a place to sleep (by law we cannot accept sex offenders or anyone actively engaged in criminal activity). The shelter consists of 60 beds divided into a men's dorm, a women's dorm and family units. Registration takes place from 6PM-9PM every night, 365 days a year. Requirements include providing ID and birth certificates of the children accompanying their parents. The first five nights are free to clients. Afterwards, clients will be asked to pay $5 per night. Clients may stay for up to 60 days if they are in compliance with shelter rules and regulations. During their stay at the shelter, clients have access to showers, hygiene items and three meals a day.

We invite you to partner with us in helping others. For more information about our programs and/or partnership opportunities, please call us at 956.682.1468.

We are located at:
1600 N. 23rd St.
McAllen, TX 78501

To give a monetary donation, you may send a check payable to The Salvation Army to the following address:

PO Box 4766, McAllen, TX 78502.

Thank you!