Seated are Jaxon, Tasha, and Jamison O’Dell, along with Braun Mischel, a local Vincentian. COURTESY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL
With help from St. Vincent de Paul, new homeowner extols power of ‘hope’
BY BELINDA ABELL, SPECIAL TO THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
It has been just over a year since Tasha O’Dell called the St. Vincent de Paul office at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro.
“It changed my life,” she said. “I was at the point of giving up. I was absolutely at my breaking point.”
After having made some bad decisions in the past, she was determined to make good decisions, especially because of her two boys. She had a job at McDonald’s, as did her 16-year-old son, Jamison O’Dell. They worked different shifts so one of them would be home with 10-year-old son, Jaxon O’Dell.
She and her boys had been living at a local motel for over a year; not the life she wanted for them, but at least it was a roof over their heads. Someone suggested she call St. Vincent de Paul to see if they could help. She was scared to call but eventually picked up the phone and called the Vincentians at Sts. Joseph and Paul.
The Vincentian who returned her call that day was Braun Mischel. Tasha told him she wanted to move out of the motel, and that she had enough money for one month’s rent, but the landlord was requiring a deposit of one month’s rent. She wondered if St. Vincent de Paul could help her with the deposit.
Braun told her: “Do not give up; there is a way for St. Vincent de Paul to help.”
With the amount of the deposit, he called several other local churches to see if they could contribute. After securing the funds for the deposit, he called Tasha and told her she could go ahead and move into her rented home.
More good news was to come for Tasha. Braun called her again and offered her a job at Kentron, where he currently works.
“I could not believe it,” said Tasha. “I was so excited and could not believe this was happening to me.”
Despite extenuating circumstances – including a car that broke down, preventing her from passing her initial physical exam – Tasha ultimately passed the exam to acquire the job.
She overcame more hurdles, such as getting sick during her job’s probationary period and her rented home going up for sale and having to move, but in the end Tasha has succeeded all the stronger – even purchasing her own home.
“This is the beauty of being a Vincentian, being able to help break the bonds of systemic poverty,” said Braun.
Tasha said she would like people to know that “there is a chance, there is hope that life can get better but you must want to change your life.”
“There is a power greater than us that can help if we want it to and let it,” she said. “My plans are to keep moving forward every day, to stay focused, to not give up, and to get up every day trying to do the right thing.”
Belinda Abell is the external affairs director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky, Inc.
Originally printed in the September 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.