April O’Neill was an addict serving a 72-hour community service sentence for shoplifting when she first came to Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission in Joplin, MO. After spending more than a decade on government assistance, the Mission challenged her to give up her benefits and embark on a new path of self-reliance.
Following a childhood mired in drug use and poverty, April first began using when she was only 11 years old and started receiving government assistance when she was just 16 years old. Her experience at Watered Gardens showed her a better way for her to choose a free and dignified life.
“Watered Gardens taught me how to take care of myself and my family,” she explains. “They taught me how to budget my money. They taught me how to take care of myself as opposed to leaning into government assistance and using money from the government that I really didn’t need if I would have just gotten up and applied myself.”
The Mission’s belief that work is vital to awakening worth in people fully manifests itself in April’s story. Her remarkable journey led her from being an addict serving a community sentence to starting her own mission; April is now the Director of a Women’s Discipleship House called In His Hands.
“I love the Women’s House. The women in my program are learning to be self-sufficient. And I’m teaching them how to be successful citizens in the community,” April said. “Whenever they graduate, they’ll have their own place to live. They’ll buy their own food and take care of their children. They’ll work. They’ll know how to do it all on their own.”
We hope you enjoy April’s inspiring story of how she overcame adversity and began living an independent life while teaching others to do the same.