Rachel grew up in a family of 8 – all of whom were homeschooled – in Florida. Her dad worked at NASA, and she compares her childhood to that of “The Duggars“: very, very conservative, girls always wore skirts, only the King James Version of the Bible was acceptable…you get the picture.
“My parents are normal now!” Rachel told me.
When Rachel left home for college, she got a birds eye view of a brave new world. Living in such a conservative household, she had not seen, heard, or experienced or had any personal picture of what we all know of as college life. “College rocked my world!” is how Rachel put it. And Rachel knew exactly what she wanted to do when she went to college. “I wanted to go into politics, or walk on stilts, or go to culinary school, or be a designer…or something.” Rachel’s total right-brainedness meant she was way out of place in a rule-based environment. She eventually settled on Political Communications, which she would use to see the world through many other lenses after growing up with only one perspective.
“I loved college. Every minute of it.” Rachel embraced her freedom, but still held tightly to the norms of growing up in a small town under the guidance of extremely conservative parents. “I wanted to graduate, get married, and have children!” But when she and her boyfriend broke up just before graduation, she was devastated, and her life took on an entirely new track.
“My younger brother died when I was 14. He was just 7,” she explained, as she opened up one of the blessings that came out of that breakup. “I moved back home because I didn’t know what I was going to do.” It was during those two years at home that she bonded with the brother that her parents adopted after her younger brother died. If she had gotten married right out of school, she wouldn’t have that bond today. Rachel worked at her church and as a Nanny for a family who traveled all over the world. Such experience opens the eyes of a young lady who wasn’t allowed to date until she went to college!
Rachel knew that, while she enjoyed the travel and working hard every day, that wasn’t where she was supposed to be. But what was she called to do? Rachel recalls an experience from her childhood when her parents took the family to work at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. “I was terrified! I wouldn’t come out from behind the counter!” All Rachel could think of during those two years was, “How do I get out of Melbourne, FL?!?”
The opportunity presented itself in 2012, when Rachel visited Atlanta for a wedding and the Passion Conference. Rachel simply decided, “I’m moving to Atlanta.” When she told her dad, he surprised her with this simple response: “Pick a date.” That’s just what she did.
Two months later, she and her sister packed up their car and moved to Atlanta without a job or a place to live. They lived with their aunt in Snellville for 2 months, and learned the city by driving to job interviews without getting directions, using a paper map. Yes, Rachel Solid is adventurous. Eventually, they convinced their dad to invest in a condo in which they would live and pay him rent. He had but one condition: “It can’t cost more than $50k.”
From that $50k condo of her dad’s, Rachel commuted to a job in staffing for about a year, but was completely miserable, and knew she needed a change. During that time, an old friend from Melbourne invited Rachel and her sister to a “gathering” of young adults. That “gathering” turned out to be at My Sister’s House, and the young adults were gathering to love on the children of homeless women. That meeting was the start of several new adventures in Rachel’s life.
First, the group of young adults who met that night continued their Tuesday evenings by going out to eat as a group to get to know one another better. More than 2 years later, they still meet and go out every Tuesday night.
Second, Rachel met a man named Justin that very first night. You’ve read his story before.
Third, as the group continued to meet and love on all the children at My Sister’s House, the need for a leader for the group arose, and Rachel and her sister found themselves in the right place at the right time. Shortly after that, Rachel was laid off from that job she hated, opening another door.
In August of 2014, through the people she met serving the children every Tuesday night, Rachel was offered a job working at Atlanta Mission. It’s right now that we should recall Rachel’s first experience in any sort of homeless shelter, in which she was absolutely terrified. But God used those Tuesday evenings to change Rachel’s heart and melt that fear away.
“It’s a spiritual experience coming to work every day at Atlanta Mission. I see miracles happen every single day. When the plight of the homeless stops breaking my heart, I’ll know it’s time to move on.”
And that is how she got here.