Tags: Featured Story, Maternity, Parenting
For the Better: Amy Baldovinos Shares Her Optimism in Community Through Faith, Hope, and Charity
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11, a favorite verse of Amy Baldovinos
Amy Baldovinos is a woman of faith. Her beliefs and character buoy the commitment to the community we share in the ways she is known for personally and professionally, specifically through her job with The Mission at Kern County. At work and at home, Amy believes all things are possible with God.
“When God calls you somewhere, you keep going,” said Amy. “I really feel this is where we’re called to be ministering right now.”
Amy’s husband, Carlos, is the executive director of The Mission at Kern County. Married for 22 years, they are the parents of two teenage sons. Samuel, 18, is a senior at Bakersfield Christian High School. Beginning in August, he will attend Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. Jacob, 13, is currently in seventh grade at Country Christian School. He enjoys basketball and playing in local tournaments the family attends.
“Jacob’s passion with basketball takes our family to a lot of games in support of that. We also love to watch sports on TV. Our family visits the ocean every time we get a chance, and we also have our family serve together at The Mission,” said Amy. “It is really important to us.”
A local 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The Mission at Kern County in Bakersfield changes local lives by assisting with meals, shelter, and educational opportunities for those in need. Physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being are part of the charity’s focus. Services also include an 18-month discipleship program focused on recovery from substance abuse, job readiness, and life skills like budgeting.
Amy has worn many professional hats throughout her five years at The Mission. A teacher by training, she has assisted with administration, but she has also helped with The Mission’s store and donation center downtown, known as Encore, in addition to teaching women in the recovery program.
“Seeing people come into us who are broken and get to know the Lord, then watching them move forward and succeed is what motivates me,” said Amy. “So often, we do see them get their children back and gain employment and stability. With the hope of the Lord, we see how their lives are forever changed.”
She credits the Christ-centered theme of the recovery program as its key to success. The program is offered without charge and is made possible through the generosity of local donors.
“We are so grateful for the donors who make our program possible. The majority of the people we serve, many of whom are women and children, would not be able to afford a program. Christ has to be at the center of our program. Some participants have gone through other programs, but all things are possible through Christ. They have to figure out what has caused them to be in their addiction and work through that.”
Trauma, abuse, homelessness, and poverty are all issues staffers at The Mission face with individuals seeking services, who are respectfully referred to as “guests.”
The Mission currently operates the Women and Children’s Recovery Home as part of the program, which is not a shelter setting but part of the residential program. Transitional housing for its graduates is also set to open later this summer, with the ultimate objective of breaking the cycle of addiction as children see different life patterns. Eliminating generational substance abuse also impacts local poverty rates.
“So many people have no place to go next. Oftentimes, the trajectory of a life is changed when there is a next phase without addiction, and the women I work with are able to get a driver’s license and a job and move on with life. We are so thankful for all of our supporters who are so generous and faithful to give toward the work that we do.”
Staying healthy at home and keeping positive have been issues for so many families during the pandemic, but working through community issues as one’s day job would be particularly challenging at this time.
“This time has been challenging, but good has come out of it,” said Amy. “Work-wise, it has been busier than usual. I try to talk with my kids each day about the positive and how to use this challenging time to grow and think outside the box. After all, through new circumstances and being out of our comfort zone really is how we grow as people. Serving others and seeing beyond yourself and how to serve those around you can help you feel more connected to others.”
The Mission is an ideal place to make a difference. Volunteering is encouraged later this year, a possibility that can soon resume with help from the public, as California moves to the phase orange tier and opens to families with older children. Amy suggests age 12 and up as an ideal life phase to start better understanding issues that contribute to the circumstances and situations surrounding those in need of help. Depending on where families’ interests lie with specific tasks, there is work open for different ages and abilities . Opportunities on-site, like groundskeeping activities such as planting flowers, could be a fun family project.
Amy finds comfort and renewal in a variety of ways. She also credits her mother, Sharon, who moved in with the family more than two years ago, with helping provide help and respite.
“What I do every day is get up early before everyone else is up and I spend that time praying, studying God’s word, and setting the pace for the day by making sure my heart’s in the right place,” said Amy.
She also recommends taking at least 30 minutes each day to exercise and care for yourself. Cardio activities like cycling and walking are some of her favorites. Amy is currently reading “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Pastor Craig Groeschel.
While the Baldovinos children have been raised around social issues, Amy recognizes that many children are unfamiliar with the concepts of homelessness, hunger, and need.
“What we remember at The Mission and often tell our children is that every person out there is a human being. They are loved and belong to a family. They are someone’s son or daughter,” said Amy. “Whether it’s choices they’ve made or people being down on their luck, every person has a story, so it’s hard to stereotype. What we care about is people’s futures. Our doors are wide open to those willing to get help.”
The Mission also serves as a reputable way families can help those in need.
“Feel free to give to The Mission if you want to help those in need, because you know exactly where your money is going: meals, beds, and helping people get on a path where they can become a functioning member of society again,” said Amy. “Our goal is to see what’s going on, understand what caused it, and go from there so everyone benefits from a healthier community.”
Donations of food, diapers, personal hygiene items, and clothing are also accepted. Find out more about how to donate material items at https://thebrm.org/goods/.
If you or someone you care about needs recovery program services, please call 661-325-0863 to receive priority assistance.
Find out more about The Mission and upcoming events at https://thebrm.org/events/.