The stories of the 33 men and women who graduated from UGM LIFE Recovery on Tuesday are diverse – addiction, unhealthy and broken relationships, depression.
Jessaca was a drug dealer, watching her life unravel until her husband, Kevin, decided they both needed to go to UGM. Kevin went to the Men’s Shelter and told Jessaca she needed to go to Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall. Jessaca said the most impactful thing that happened in recovery was establishing a relationship with God. “It was like this huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and I just remembered, Oh my gosh, He loves me and He remembered me and He never gave up on me.” Today, she has a job, a healthier marriage, and a relationship with Jesus.
Jami went from man to man. She didn’t know how to do healthy relationships and ran from any conflict, resulting in a lack of stability for herself and her son, Javin. “I wanted to learn to have healthy relationships, for me and for [Javin].” She came to the Center for Women and Children hoping to learn. Now, she plans “to make every moment with my son better, and to always look ahead and see how to prepare for where we’re going and keep my relationships healthy. I just want to make the best out of life that I can for us.”
“I was in a lot of depression, a lot of shame, a lot of guilt, and I was in complete denial. I had no idea my life was the result of my choices.” Ben struggled with alcoholism. He lost his job, couldn't pay his rent and was eventually evicted from his apartment, bringing him to UGM. He entered Men’s Recovery and learned the importance of support – people holding him accountable, as well as encouraging him – in becoming a healthier person. “The amount of support I have in my life is the biggest difference from before the Mission and after the Mission…Today, I am a person who wants to be in relationship with other people.”
The reasons people arrive at UGM are widespread, but beneath these issues lies a common theme: PAIN.
Graduation was, among other things, a real celebration of the beauty – freedom, healing, identity – that has emerged from the ashes of pain in individuals’ lives. And each graduate’s story emanates this beauty.
“I thought, Okay, when I’m better, when I’m worthy enough to come to You, then I’ll come to You. But I learned that that wasn’t the case…started learning that He defines me, not the bumps, not the circumstances or situations, He defines me, and He wants the very best for me.” –Carolyn White
“They taught me how to live again. They taught me how to breathe again…I am a child of God, I know that no matter what, He will never fail me…and I feel like a whole human today.” –Brenda Corn
“I am a son of God, I am one of His children, and I’m not who I once was. I’m a man. I was a boy until I came here, and now, I’m a man.” – David Nicosia
To hear all 33 of the men's and women's full stories, watch their graduation videos here.