Writing is one of the key subjects we work on in our Vocational Education classes. We want to prepare our residents to communicate well in their future jobs and personal lives, so creating opportunities for them to express themselves both personally and professionally is a top priority.
They get practice typing journal responses in a Word document and attaching them to an email. They also learn to write a business letter, a narrative story, and a persuasive essay, assignments that have proven handy in real life. A couple of ladies had to write a business letter to recommend another resident in a court decision. Another woman had to persuade a judge to reduce her child support payments while she was in the program.
Some residents write their personal testimonies for their narrative story assignment - you can read one of them below.
-Kim Palmer, Vocational Education Coordinator, Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall
Hope Starts Here
By Rikki Morgan, Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall
I woke up freezing, the smell of alcohol in the air and on his breath. I was terrified. I had nowhere to go, no money, no gas, no food. All I had was this parking garage, a drunk, abusive boyfriend, and 19 days of hell in this minivan.
I sat in the front seat of the van, rolling the last of the tobacco for a cigarette in a page of the Bible somebody had given me on the street. I sat staring at a concrete wall in the hospital parking garage. Journey was playing on the radio, and tears were rolling down my face. I sat wondering how the heck I got here, and how low I had sunk in my life. How much more could I take before I drove right off the top of this parking garage?
I knew something had to change or I would die, either from this abusive man or by my own hands.
That was the day I knew I needed help, and more help than any one human being could give me. I needed God. I needed a miracle.
I scrounged up $3.80 and put it in the gas tank. I knew I had to make that $3.80 get me to the Crisis Shelter. I told my drunk, abusive Mr. Right that our relationship was over, and I left him staring after me as I pulled into the UGM parking lot.
On the sign in front of the building it read, “Hope Starts Here.” I remember thinking: Hope is all I have left. I left my old life, my old people, and my addictions the day I walked through that door. I knew things were about to get real.
As I described my heart-wrenching tale to the lady inside, my heartbeat began to slow down, and I felt safe for the first time in three years. I knew I was now surrounded by women who understood me. They were my equals. I no longer had to fight my abuser. I no longer had to fight the casino monster. I no longer had to fight to stay warm and safe. I just had to begin the fight to live again.
As days went by, I felt the healing begin. I felt a new power - the power of prayer, kindness, and love. I spent 90 days at the UGM Crisis Shelter, surrounded by broken women just like me who gave each other strength and hope every day. At the shelter, I learned of Anna Ogden Hall. I knew that was the place for me. I could repair my relationship with God and my beautiful children.
Here I am, 180 days since I walked through that door, now beginning a new journey at 43 years old. My new journey finds me with hope for the future because I am walking every day with God. It’s still an uphill battle every day, but as long as I am following God, I know I am moving in the right direction. I will always remember the tremendous fight and that little sign that changed my life… “Hope Starts Here.”
You can help someone like Rikki find hope and a way out of homelessness. Click below to give a woman a safe night at the Crisis Shelter.