Kelsie Teves-Chang

Kelsie Teves-Chang

After spending her life on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Kelsie Teves-Chang was looking for a change as she approached high school graduation. “When you live on an island, you can get island fever,” said Kelsie, who decided to go to college in California. “I had a roommate, and all my classes were set up.” But due to financial constraints, Kelsie’s plans changed. “I was bitter about it, but as time went on, I realized it was God working.”

Kelsie attended the University of Hawaii and moved to the mainland in 2019. She and her husband live in San Luis Obispo and attend Calvary SLO.

Kelsie started as the Mission’s Community Relations Coordinator in June. “I’ve always wanted to help people, and my husband and I have a heart for the homeless,” she said. “I came in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But I soon learned how naive I was about addiction and homelessness. The first couple months, I cried often. When people left the program or relapsed, it was discouraging.

“I still have those days. There are still those people, those stories that break my heart. But there are many more days when I get really inspired. When a resident phases up, or I have a good conversation with one of the guys and he really opens up, that’s a good day.”

Kelsie recalled a conversation she had recently with a resident nearing graduation. “I hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks,” she said. “He updated me on his life, about the reconciliation of his family. I bawled out of happiness. It’s why I do my job. I love these guys and the people out in the community. I’m so happy to be able to help them.”

Kelsie is looking forward to the opening of the Mission’s women’s Life Recovery Program later this year. “It’s a really big need in the community,” she said. “There are women trying to find help out here and there is nothing. They wish there was something for them. This is going to be a big deal, and meaningful and important for a lot of people.”

As a transplant, Kelsie has been moved by the love she’s seen in her new community.

“Part of it’s being in a small town. People care so much about those struggling in their backyard. I’m encouraged by the businesses and the people who want to help. They can help us meet the needs we aren’t able to meet on our own.”

Kelsie said when she started at the Mission, she was nervous. “I felt like an imposter, like I didn’t deserve it,” she said. “It’s given me a lot of confidence and it’s a good reminder that things aren’t about me. All of these things are happening through God. In the end, all the glory goes to Him.

“Even in this short amount of time, this job has been life changing. It’s had such an effect on my perspective, and I’m more aware of others in my community. The people I work with and those in the community, they are very encouraging. They are life giving. They build me up.”