Building a new life in Yuba-Sutter
BY DAN CRAWFORD –
Wendy McGowan crossed paths twice with the Depot Family Crisis Center operated by The Salvation Army’s Yuba-Sutter Command in the historic Marysville train station.
But it wasn’t until she endured an 18-month separation from her four children that she looked at herself in the mirror and decided to ask God to put her derailed life back on the right track.
She failed to follow through at the Depot in 1995. But after three painful intervening years, she became convinced that the program’s strict but caring environment could help her begin to deal with the root causes of her personal and family conflicts.
Her family returned in April 1997.
“We didn’t know if there would be space available or not,” she recalled. “We just had to stand on faith.”
She and her children lived in one of the 11 rooms for families in the 58-bed facility. They participated in counseling, family relations classes and support groups that helped deal with anger and other painful life issues.
“I found appropriate resources that helped enable me to identify some of the major problem areas and then begin work on those issues,” she said.
In five months she graduated from the depot. But her graduation certificate represented not an end, but a new direction for her life.
“One of the greatest assets I learned, from Les (Pogue) and the support staff, they proved to me that I was a valuable person and that I could achieve my ideals.”
Pogue, who served as her case manager, now directs the Depot’s programs and has McGowan as an administrative assistant. She joined the staff in April 1998, only a year after entering the program as a client.
As she walks through the halls and revisits the rooms where her turnaround began, she sees reminders of trying times. Patched holes in wallboard and windows that were broken by her children serve as signposts of issues that erupted and were handled.
“My children were probably, if not the most, one of the most trying cases they’ve dealt with,” she said.
When similar signs of turmoil erupt among current Depot clients, she easily identifies with their struggles.
“My life is very parallel to the participants in the program,” she said. “I’m just a couple years farther down the road. My life isn’t a whole lot different than theirs, even today.”
The Depot provided a key lesson for McGowan and her children. “It enabled me to teach them about faith in action and trust in God,” she said.
For others facing troubles and considering the Depot as a way out, she offers a sobering challenge to look at themselves in the mirror and answer a serious question about the unpleasant things they see.
“Are they willing to make the change?”
With a combination of commitment, faith, and the support, education, training and discipline at the Depot, she knows the course of her life has a new direction, but is still far from perfect.