I knew I was in the right place as soon as I arrived at City Rescue Mission, but I traveled a rough road in my life to get here. I grew up in a small town in Georgia as the seventh of nine kids in a two bedroom, one bathroom house. My father passed away when I was two-years-old, and my siblings and I were raised by a single mother who worked all of the time to provide for us.
At the age of 13, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol. The dabbling with cigarettes eventually led to an interest in marijuana. I graduated high school in 1979, moved away to Atlanta, and worked for Woolworth department store in sales. Unfortunately, leaving my hometown didn’t help me leave my old habits. I attended church, but was also living a rebellious life and doing ungodly things.
It was during my time in Atlanta that I met the man who would father my first child. During our relationship, I started smoking crack, and we were together for twelve years before I ended up pregnant. Once my son was born, I went back out once again to hang out with people and do drugs. My family helped raise my son, but they also enabled me. My son’s father passed away, and I got involved in another relationship that brought me my first daughter.
I moved back to my hometown, and my mom raised my two kids as I lived on the streets, continuing to smoke crack, marijuana and drink. A few years later, I became pregnant with my third child, another daughter. Department of Children & Families got involved and my oldest sister legally became guardian of my kids. This was my lowest point, because I lost my kids. I became even more wild and loose. All totaled, my period of addiction lasted thirty years. I was in and out of jail for drug possession on misdemeanor charges.
My love for drugs and alcohol had become stronger than the love for my family. I was constantly in and out of their lives.
My cousin heard about City Rescue Mission from a pastor in Georgia, and that pastor helped me find shelter here in May 2013. I was tired and I wanted my kids to have the mother back that they deserve. When I arrived at City Rescue Mission, I felt the spirit of God in this place. It felt like home. God has done a wonderful work in me. It was almost like He took away all of my temptations. Because of God and City Rescue Mission, I have advanced my learning and communication skills, and I recently received my Ready to Work certificate. Through my time at CRM, I have also made strides in getting my life and kids back.
Not a day goes by when I don’t regret each year that was wasted by my addiction. I missed so many moments of my kids growing up. My kids are now 20, 18, and 15. I’ve been able now to go and see them. I let them know I was battling something that took control, and took the best of me. I only wish I had made this change sooner. I can’t change what happened, but I can make it better. I communicate with my children often. I try to remind them how much God loves them, and how He saved me. I know that over time my relationship with my children will be restored. I want to be the parent I couldn’t be before.
City Rescue Mission has meant everything to me. My prayer is to find a job in Jacksonville and stay in town. God has brought me through everything. God will never leave me, and when I leave here I will stand on His promises.