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
"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
PO Box 4766, McAllen, TX 78502.