SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — At first glance, many people probably wouldn’t believe Christina Kitchen had once slept in the Salvation Army facility’s beds or even lived on the streets for over six years.
Each of those events is part of Kitchen’s incredible life journey, that led her to become a Salvation Army Center of Hope supervisor.
“Life growing up was pretty difficult,” Kitchen explained. “I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional household. My mom was codependent. My stepfather was an alcoholic. There was a lot of physical and sexual abuse.”
At only 12-years-old, Kitchen had her first child.
“I was a baby trying to take care of a baby. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing,” Kitchen said. “Here I had this precious little child that I did not know how to parent.”
Drugs and alcohol became her vice. By 21 years old, Kitchen had six children and a powerful addiction to methamphetamine.
“I was 18 when I tried meth for the first time, and they say you don’t immediately get addicted,” Kitchen recalled. “I was addicted. All the guilt and the shame, it masked it, so I didn’t feel it at all.”
Kitchen finally hit rock bottom when Child Protective Services came for her eighth baby.
“The day that I gave birth to my daughter, CPS came to the hospital, and they took her from me. The reality of that, to me that was my awakening. God stepped into my life and awoke me at that moment. …” Kitchen said. “I love my children. I love them dearly. I couldn’t quit for them, and then the reality, I got pregnant with this baby, and ‘oh my God I might bring this baby into this world and ruin this baby’s life like I did my older kids.’ I stopped using, I said I am done.”
After checking into rehab and getting back custody of her daughter, Kitchen still needed to find a shelter that would take them in.
On Oct. 31, 2006, in Marysville, Kitchen found her salvation.
“I went into the Salvation Army Depot, and that’s really where my recovery, my growth, everything started from that day,” she shared.
For the next 15 years, Kitchen would work her way up through the ranks of the Salvation Army, get her certification as a drug and alcohol counselor and become the emergency shelter supervisor of a place that has a 63% success rate for people in similar situations to her own.
“I thought that I was going to be an addict for the rest of my life, and that would consume me and kill me,” Kitchen said. “I never imagined in a million years that I would be a successful woman in society and a part of society. I never ever could fathom being a supervisor of anything.”
On top of her success at Salvation Army, Kitchen has reunited with all of her children and loves spending time with all 14 of her grandchildren.
“I feel like I’m giving back to my own kids through my grandchildren, and I’m giving back everything that the Salvation Army gave to me every day that I come to work,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen told FOX40 that before COVID-19, the Center of Hope could house up to 64 men and 52 women while providing several transformative services for them.
Since the pandemic, their funding has dwindled, and so have their numbers.
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