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Family finds new home in Bemidji

Angel Powell cuddles her 4-year-old twin daughters, Tristan, left, and Trinity. Although the family has seen some hard times, this Thanksgiving they are thankful for all the generous reaching out they have experienced. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Angel Powell has lived through some hard times, but the outreach and generosity of strangers has led her to a brighter place in her life.

She is grateful on this Thanksgiving day for finding a safe home in Bemidji after fleeing from an abusive relationship in the St. Cloud area.

As Powell tells her story, in St. Cloud, her fiancé got drunk and beat her up. He hit her in the head with the telephone when she tried to make a 911 call for help. Prior to that incident, she said he had been emotionally and verbally abusive, but had not harmed her physically. He was charged with assault, interfering with a 911 call and possession of marijuana, she said.

A victim of abuse from her father and in other relationships, Powell said she told her former partner when they got together six years ago that she wouldn't tolerate abuse. Following the assault, she said she called Elk River Ford, Dodge, Jeep to explain that she couldn't make a car payment and why. Instead of giving her trouble about the inability to pay, the car dealer reached out to help her.

That was the beginning of a series of generous gestures Powell said she has experienced. She said the car dealer put her in touch with the Brainerd battered women's shelter, but that facility was full. Brainerd made the referral to Northwoods Coalition for Family Safety in Bemidji, and Powell made the move.

"They sent a Jane Doe (bus) ticket," she said.

Powell packed up a couple of outfits for her 4-year-old twin daughters, Trinity and Tristan, boarded the bus and was welcomed Nov. 7 at the Bemidji shelter.

Donations of clothing, a guarantee of a safe place to live and a new church family at Bemidji United Methodist make this Thanksgiving memorable for Powell.

"I was so thankful, it brought tears to my eyes," she said.

She said she can stay at the Bemidji shelter for two months, but she has been working with Beltrami County Social Services and expects to move into a mobile home in early December.

She said Trinity and Tristan are coping well with the move and will enroll in the Central Elementary School pre-kindergarten program.

"We're truly blessed," Powell said. "God has really been blessing us."

Powell said she lives with some disabilities, but she helps with chores at the Northwoods Coalition for Family Safety and is glad to keep occupied. She said she is also thankful to the churches that have reached out to help her and her daughters, and she looks forward to the Thursday women's support group meetings.

She said she is also thankful that "something woke me up" to the abusive situation she and her children were living.

"I just totally believe this had to happen," she said. "I'm the one to break this cycle (of abuse) so my girls won't have to go through it."

Powell said she is looking forward to starting a new life, perhaps helping others as a women's advocate or volunteering with animals.

"What I'm most thankful for are my children and to be in a safe place," she said.