DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are many happy graduation moments at this time of year, and those who turned their tassels at the Durham Rescue Mission really have a reason to celebrate. The ceremony Tuesday morning affirmed their triumph over personal struggles and homelessness.
Iris Bumpass, a graduate of the mission's Victory Program said, "It's amazing that I've made it this far. I mean, at one point I was thinking I'm just going to give up. But you know, God just put in me to keep pushing, keep pressing, keep moving on. You can do this."
It is a similar story of perseverance for graduate Trena Manigault.
"So, I give Him all the glory for bringing me through, because I've been through some stuff," she said. "I've been in a real bad car accident, I did 15 years in prison. So, God has brought me a mighty long way, and I give him all the praises."
The Rev. Ernie Mills shared some of the challenges faced during his life's journey. His father, a bootlegger and an alcoholic, never received the kind of help Mills offers at the rescue mission.
"They find out that God loves them, we love them, and that's when their lives really begin to change," Mills said. "Attitude, being to work on time, these are things we teach good here. The employers ask if they can get along with people. We can teach them how to do their job."
The happy graduates have big plans.
"I'm moving forward toward a home, homeownership. So I want to finish owning my home," Bumpass said. "Return to my hometown and show them that you, you can do this."
Manigault plans to stay the course as well.
"I'm going to continue working in the thrift store," she said. "Save my money in a savings account, get my own place and let the Lord just continue to work in my life and bless me, sir."
The Rescue Mission plans to open another thrift store, its fifth, in Roxboro, Bumpass' hometown.