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4 min read

“There is always a way out”: Words of hope from Debra, Bennie, and Sabra

For our neighbors caught in cycles of homelessness, abuse, and addiction, we want to share the message that there is a way out. There is hope for a better life. Those who have walked the path before know firsthand how desperation can turn into hope and how hope can fuel a host of new life choices. They know better than any of us what it takes to say yes to change.    

Debra, Bennie, and Sabra all found freedom at Union Gospel Mission, and now they want to share with those still feeling stuck that hope is not lost.

 

 

Debra, formerly homeless addict


If I could speak to myself back when I was in my addiction, I’d say, “You’re looking for help in the wrong places.” I was making stupid choices, and the people around me were making stupid choices too. 

Debra-2

My upbringing was garbage. I was picked on and made fun of at school as well as at home. People always said I was so ugly I’d die alone. At 17, I decided I wanted a man in my life and was willing to take what I could get, so I put an ad in the paper and met this 45-year-old man. He was a liar, verbally abusive, and he started buying me alcohol which became my first addiction.

Things went from bad to worse. I wound up getting away from him, but my bad choices didn’t end. In a few short years, I became like every single human I’d ever judged. I was homeless, I was addicted to meth, I had four kids by three different guys, and I started doing things I’ll regret the rest of my life. 

In 2017, by the grace of God, I finally decided I’d had enough of the street life. I tried some outpatient programs, but I kept relapsing, so in 2019, I went to UGM for their 18-month LIFE Recovery program

 

“There is always a way out”

 


The program helped me define who I really wanted to be and gave me steps to become that person. When I finished the program, I had two years of sobriety under my belt, and today, I have over four years. I never thought I’d make it this far. I have a job and an apartment for me and my youngest, and I’m trying to rebuild relationships with my older kids. 

What I want to say to anyone out there who’s lost all hope is that “There is always a way out. You might feel stuck, but the truth is, there are steps you can take that will change your life. Don’t give up on yourself. Just take the first step and reach out to someone or a program that can help you. Help really is out there.” 

 
 


Bennie, recovered alcoholic


I started drinking in my early twenties. I’d been a bit of a loner all my life, but realized if I had a couple drinks, I was more comfortable talking with girls. So, I was hanging out at bars and suddenly I’m spending $100 a night. Then, I got a DUI, so I started drinking at home. And that turned into a fifth a day which lasted for over ten years. During this time, I had my daughter, but my wife and I had divorced. When my daughter would visit on the weekends, I never would drink around her, but come Sunday, I’d start watching the clock until she’d go back to her mom’s. All I wanted to do was start drinking again. 

Bennie-1

I would have continued on like that, but I had a pancreatic attack which was God’s way of giving me a second chance. The doctor said if I didn’t change, my pancreas would burn out. It probably wouldn’t have mattered to me if I didn’t have my daughter, but I did, and my life mattered because of her. 

I’d gone to UGM a few times before but had never signed up for the Recovery program. I had enough experience to know that 30-day programs wouldn’t do me any good, so I enrolled at UGM. Best decision I’ve ever made. I thought two years sounded too long, but I’m telling you if it wasn’t for those two years, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. 

 

“Your future is worth putting in that effort for.”

 

When you’re at the bottom, it’s impossible to think about changing everything. It’s overwhelming. You’ve got your financial problems, your marriage problems, your work problems, and then if you’ve got an addiction problem too, there’s too much to handle. That’s why I tell people that short-term programs are a joke. It takes time to get past the need. It takes time to recognize what’s perpetuating that addiction and to move beyond it. You need to give yourself that time.

I’d say to anyone who’s not sure about a long-term program like this, “Don’t look at the big picture; you’ve got to break it down, take it one step at a time. You’ll build faith in yourself, little by little, and the next thing you know, you’re thinking about the future and not the past. And let me just tell you, your future is worth putting in that effort for.”

 

 

Sabra, formerly homeless addict

What I’d tell my younger self is, “God has great things in store for you. You’re going to have a place of your own, you’re going to pay your own bills, you’re going to be someone that other people look to when they’re struggling.” But I wouldn’t have believed a word of it.

Sabra-2

Growing up, I was very codependent. That lasted into adulthood, and it got to a point where I didn’t think I was worth much on my own. I always wanted someone or something to take care of me, and I went through life feeling let down by everyone. I chose drugs to cope with that emptiness.

But God had so much more for me. I came to UGM extremely sick. I was lost, homeless, addicted, and I had very little hope. Just a few months after I started the LIFE Recovery program, I wanted to quit. But I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I had reached rock bottom. 


“You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.”

 

I had to learn to take one day at a time. I dug in and got to the root of a lot of problems that had kept me stuck. I learned to see my addiction as a liar; it had promised to save me but only ever made things worse. I figured out how to build my life and become independent. And I learned my self-worth. I no longer need to be dependent on somebody else to help me function.

For anyone doubting their worth today, I’d say, “You matter. You’re worth it. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Just put in the footwork today, and before you know it, you’ll have a life you never even imagined was possible.”



Because there are people like you pointing the way, providing resources, and extending a helping hand, there is a way out for anyone willing to accept it. Your partnership with Union Gospel Mission is turning desperation into hope. Thank you. 

 



View the print version of the September Mission News.

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