Stefani Mitchell first met Paul Gifford, lead pastor of First Assembly of God in Toms River, New Jersey, and Paul Hulse, outreach director of a ministry to the homeless called Haven-Beat the Streets, during the winter of 2017.
The Toms River church became the first facility in Ocean County to open its doors to the homeless on nights when the temperature dipped below freezing. Police brought Mitchell, high on drugs, to the facility. She used heroin and ecstasy to dull the pain she felt due to a series of losses. By then, Mitchell had given up on herself and her four daughters. Family members had temporary custody of her older girls, and the twins lived with their father.