in the news template blog-list | Saint John’s Program for Real Change
 
         

Rebuilding my Family

“Saint John’s taught me how to be a mother again, and they provided me with the skills I needed to have a career.” After the death of her mother, Natisha was overwhelmed with stress. She began experimenting with drugs and settled on meth to mask the pain. Over the course of her 10-year addiction, she lost her job and her apartment and was living in a tent by the river…

Piece by Piece

One of the challenges of memorializing the life of a Saint John’s graduate is how to capture the real story. These women have come from places and pasts so drastically different from our own, and yet, they are more full of hope and happiness than most anyone you have ever met. That’s what makes their stories so powerful. After graduating from Saint John’s, Shayla moved away to start a new life….

Beyond My Wildest Dreams

“The staff at Saint John’s loved me until I could love myself.” Suffering verbal, mental and physical abuse by her boyfriend, Carmen became severely depressed and turned to meth to self-medicate. Her life had spiraled out of control, as she alternately lived on the streets and couch-surfed, resulting in CPS removing five-year-old daughter Olivia (now 10) from her custody and placing her in foster care. Olivia was later adopted by…

Beginning to Know Myself

I met Jennifer after she had finished a shift managing some of the other ladies working in the residential campus kitchen…..hot and tired, she had an air of calm confidence that impressed me immediately. Here was a smart lady who, at 42, finally knew what she had to do to move forward in her life. Pregnant at 15 with son Adrien, married at 16 and divorced at 17, Jennifer actually…

Committed to a Better Life

“While I was at Saint John’s, I didn’t have to worry about rent – I could focus on my goal and my plan.” In and out of jail all her life and addicted to drugs from age 16, Karen spent three years in prison for aggravated identity theft, yet still rebounded to her dysfunctional lifestyle upon her release at age 30. When her son Kyren (now 6) started kindergarten, she…

A Story of Strength and Determination

It was rainy outside when I met Mynica, but her smile immediately brightened the day. Her story, a complex web of ins and outs, ups and downs, struggles and hopes left me wondering just where to start in trying to describe this beautiful lady and her journey. Mynica was one of three children being “raised” by an alcoholic, drug-addicted mother. “Neenie” was the middle child in every sense of the…

Mighty Melissa

Finally Felicia

When Felicia underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2006, little did she know that this procedure would produce the opposite result for which it was intended: instead of leading to improved health, it resulted in an addiction to opioids. When she could no longer get her hands on pain meds, she turned to meth, and from there, it was a twisted, agonizing downward spiral. “When you take opioids, your body starts…

She is Risen

Resurrection, rebirth, renewal are all words we will hear a lot this week, but these are words that we live by, every day, at Saint John’s. When women and children arrive at our doors, the joy and exuberance that is life is missing from their eyes, from their faces, from their souls. They are broken, they are exhausted, they are desperate. Rock bottom seems like a step up. We embrace…

Stephanie

Stephanie’s Serendipity

As a single mother of three, living paycheck-to-paycheck was a way of life. Stephanie became the sole parent of her family in 2014, when her husband was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison for beating her. For years, the beatings had gone unreported, as he repeatedly threatened to kill her and their son if she reported the abuse, even going so far as to destroy her cell phone…

Sandy’s Salvation

What kind of mother uses while she’s pregnant? What kind of mother would continue to use, knowing she had four babies already removed from her care by “the system?” Looking back at a life I can no longer fathom, I am forever grateful for the Real Change I have finally been able to achieve. At 32 years old, I was homeless, pregnant and strung out on meth… while pregnant with…

Silver Belle

Silver had it all – marriage, family, a career, a home. An avid learner with a passion to explore, school and classes have always been a part of her life. After earning her high school diploma, she went right to work, but always fit a class or two into her life. “I like to keep things fresh,” observes Silver. “There’s always more to learn.” Over the course of her career,…

Dawn Rising

“People ain’t perfect. We all have these flaws and we all have these hiccups.” Dawn originally entered Saint John’s ten years ago. She went through the program simply to get done with it. She admits, “I was doing what I was told to do. I wasn’t receiving what I was supposed to be receiving, I was just going through the motions. I was there because CPS had requested I do…

Unstoppable Maria

Maria walks into Saint John’s in scrubs fresh off a break from her job at UC Davis Medical Center. She has a bright, infectious smile and truly seems to be the happiest person in the world which is simply amazing as she was homeless before finding Saint John’s Program for Real Change. “I love my job,” she says smiling. ”I actually got this job, thanks to Saint John’s. I didn’t…

Alumnae Almighty

There is perhaps nothing more comforting than baring your soul to someone that has truly been where you have been, seen what you have seen, lived what you have lived, endured what you have endured. This is precisely why the Saint John’s Alumnae Association is so important to our program. Now led by President Lucy G., a 2017 graduate of Saint John’s Program, the Association’s board is made up of…

1 Picture/1000 Words

“When I paint, I listen to worship music, and I let God lead,” says Mandy. Just six weeks into the program, Mandy W. has taken quickly to the Friday afternoon Art Therapy class offered at Saint John’s, despite nary having lifted a paint brush. While it was a requirement for her first 30 days, Mandy found the class to be so therapeutic, she has stayed, and flourished. Her painting, “My…

Kelli’s Story

Waiting to meet Kelli at Saint John’s, I knew that she had already worked a full day and had a 12-year-old daughter waiting for her at her new apartment, another 20 minutes away. But Kelli showed no signs of being tired or impatient. Instead she was cheerful, hugging the staff, and appeared visibly thrilled to be here. I soon learned that a rare gift had been offered to her today:…

Helping Children Succeed

Our average client is 34 years old and has two children, 47% of whom arrive at our doors suffering from depression and anxiety as a result of their homelessness. Many of these children have been raised in an environment rife with drugs, alcohol and domestic violence, and have endured uninhabitable living conditions, with no awareness that this is not normal, nor acceptable. At Saint John’s, we know that treating our…

Erika

Erika’s Story

“It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work,” the mother of three says, calling Saint John’s Program for Real Change a real blessing. Despite her seemingly tranquil nature, Erika, at age 30, has been haunted by fear for most of her life. Fear of going to school in aging, often unwashed clothing; fear of her mother’s frequent absences in search of the big win at the gaming…

All Dolled Up!

A mother of five daughters, 85-year-old Nancy Thompson was inspired to make her first doll more than 30 years ago. After making one for each daughter, their friends wanted them too. When daughter Chris was in nursing school, she came home one day with a tale of a patient whose parents were both farm workers and therefore gone all day. “I made her a doll so that she would have…

Chastity in Charge!

Chastity grew up in foster care in New Jersey from the age of seven, and was pregnant with her son by the time she turned 21. With a work history including serving as a safety manager and facilities administrator at Aeroforms, a contractor for Exxon Mobile, an Uber/Lyft driver and various positions managing fast food restaurants, she never experienced legal problems, drug or alcohol addiction like many of our clients…

A Sister’s Story

If you’ve ever been in a support-person role (and most of us have), you know how difficult it is to navigate the obstacles, emotions, logistics and, in most cases, unfavorable circumstances associated with the person you are trying to help. Add to that the frustration and heartbreak of doing everything you know to be physically, financially and emotionally possible, and still your loved one flounders. The family and friends of…

Turning the Tables

Ten times per year, we hold our popular Guest Chef Dinners at Plates Café, where 200-250 members of our community gather in support of our program to enjoy a delicious meal-with-a-meaning, prepared and presented by a local “guest chef” with the help of our Employment Training Program participants. Each fall for the past three years, we’ve turned the tables with a “Reverse Guest Chef Dinner,” where together with the support…

CONGRATULATIONS TO COUNCILWOMAN ANGELIQUE ASHBY AND SIERRA HEALTH FOUNDATION PRESIDENT & CEO CHET HEWIITT, OUR 2018 CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE!

It is our great pleasure to announce the recipients of our 2018 Champions of Change awards, Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby and Sierra Health Foundation President and CEO Chet Hewitt! The award, now in its second year, recognizes those who exemplify Saint John’s core values: Love, Courage, Effort, Gratitude, Respect, Community and Growth. Please consider joining us, if you haven’t already reserved your ticket, at our November 3 Party for…

A Giant Hip Hip Hooray for Allstate Agent and Saint John’s Volunteer Zachary Wandell

Recipient of the 2018 Ray Lynch Community Service Award! Sacramento Allstate agency owner and community volunteer extraordinaire Zachary Wandell has been awarded the prestigious 2018 Ray Lynch Community Service Award, and we couldn’t be prouder! The award is Allstate’s top national honor commending an agency owner or financial specialist for giving back and supporting people and organizations in their local communities. The award, established in 2000 in memory of Allstate…

From the Mouths, and Eyes, and Ears, of Babes

More than three million children witness domestic violence in their families each year. Three million. Think about that for just a moment, and your heart hurts. The things they’ve seen, the things they’ve heard, the travesties they’ve endured, for most of us this is simply unimaginable. 47 percent of the children that arrive at Saint John’s suffer from anxiety or depression as a result of their homelessness, and more than…

Real Change Becomes a Reality

We are so very proud to announce that one of our favorite supporters, volunteers, and yes, a former Saint John’s client, Pastor Olliver Jean Rogers, earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Counseling from the Pacific Northwest Seminary on September 20th! Way to go Dr. Rogers! Olliver earned her pastoral ministry from the Church of Transformation in Leesville, Louisiana in 2008 after 11 years of sobriety from a debilitating cocaine…

Time to Get Out Your Purple Purse!

For the third year running, Saint John’s will be participating in the Purple Purse Challenge, a 31-day national campaign that unites nonprofits in a competition to raise funds for life-changing services to help domestic violence survivors. Sponsored by the Allstate Foundation, one of our strongest supporters, this fundraising effort is held each year throughout the month of October, recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Some eye-opening, heart-wrenching statistics that…

Julianna’s Story

Julianna came to Saint John’s straight from treatment on September 18th, 2017, as there was no other place to go. Coming from a life of domestic violence and addiction, her partner was incarcerated for attacking her in her seventh month of pregnancy. And because of her addiction, CPS took custody of her children, and gave her little to no hope that she would ever get them back. Reunification, they told…

Lucy’s Story

Suffering from depression and PTSD, Lucy was lost – to herself and to her children – and ended up self-medicating, and self-destructing, with drugs and alcohol. After finding the strength to enter rehab, and celebrating six-months sobriety, she knew she needed more. Finding Saint John’s was her salvation. “Saint John’s changed everything for me,” observes Lucy. “Life is still scary at times, but now I can deal with it. Saint…

Lupe’s Story

Living couch to couch and abusing drugs, Lupe knew she had to make a change, but she faced unforgiving stigmas in her traditional Mexican family. She was at the point where she was going to lose her kids. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! Lupe faced her fears and stood up against the threat of her family disowning her. I just said, “This is where I…

Mandy’s Story

I met with Mandy at Saint John’s and was immediately overwhelmed by the feeling that everything would be OK. Mandy’s quiet strength and honest gaze just made me feel safe. What’s remarkable is how far she’s come in just a short amount of time. It was a little over two years ago on Christmas day that this beautiful mother of six children was balled up in the corner of a…

Jamie’s Story

Jamie was worried that her abusive roommate and want-to-be suitor would soon turn on her young daughter. She was repeatedly turned down at shelters because her abuser was not her partner, until she found Saint John’s. “Saint John’s changed my life,” says Jamie. “When I walked in, I thought it was beautiful. I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” While in the program, Jamie lost her daughter’s father in a…

Jennifer’s Success Story

Following the death of her beloved mother and having her son survive a stabbing that left him permanently blind in one eye, Jennifer found herself homeless at 40 years old, and suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). She became agoraphobic — afraid of stepping outside– and afraid of even letting her daughter walk to school by herself. Jennifer and her young daughter resorted to wandering the streets of Sacramento, sleeping…

Saint John’s – A Symphony of Moving Parts

When Catia Saraiva-Munoz discovered Saint John’s Program for Real Change in her quest to partner with a community-based non-profit, she was more than impressed by what she found. “This is not a typical charity that provides food and shelter to the homeless,” explains Saraiva-Munoz. “This program delivers tangible results. It addresses all of the many facets that lead to homelessness including unemployment, mental health, parenting skills, addiction, domestic violence and…

Erika’s Success Story

There is a Walmart parking lot in North Sacramento where Erika and her 12 year-old daughter Gabby spent some nights. They had free Wi-Fi and Erika would let Gabby play on her phone to pass the time. Homeless off and on for almost five years, every day was an exercise in survival. Erika and Gabby would slip into the bathroom at Walmart to wash up, hoping none of the store…

Maria’s Story

She remembered it like it was yesterday – the events of that night forever seared into her memory. Maria, a former addict, thought she was finally getting her life together. After living crammed in a van with family members for four months, including her sister and the father of her child, she had finally scraped up enough money to get an apartment. Unfortunately, the sense of relief she felt was…

Adrianna’s Story

If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies – Anonymous I had the pleasure to sit and chat with Adrianna, a graduate of Saint John’s Program for Real Change, and soon came to realize that she is an incredible example of how to overcome adversity through perseverance and faith. My first thought, upon hearing her story, was that it would have been easy for Adrianna to give up. A…

Wendy’s Story

“It started with the electricity being turned off,” says Wendy, a mom of two and a resident of the Saint John’s Program for Real Change. Within one month of the lights going off, Child Protective Services (CPS) showed up at the kids’ school even though they were both showered and fed. What could have precipitated such a swift response from CPS? When I sat down with Wendy to discuss how…

Kaira’s Story

As we begin a new year I would like to invite you to meet someone who has given me a completely different perspective on my life. And this is by no means a temporary effect, it is daily. I think about her daily.  When I visited the program at Saint John’s in December I had never been to the facilities. I had been to the fundraisers and was incredibly touched…

Natisha’s Story

“I had a happy childhood,” Natisha began. It was an upbringing she shared with two half siblings, her mom and her grandmother – both functioning substance abusers, a habit Natisha would seemingly inherit years later as she veered away from her happy beginnings down what was soon to become a dark path. At 18, following her high school graduation, Natisha got a job, married and flirted briefly with crack cocaine….

Simona’s Story

Jan. 2016 – Simona had hit rock bottom—emotionally and financially. The crash was painful. Over the course of 16 days, she had left an abusive boyfriend and watched her father take his last breath. Then she did what she had always thought was elusive, she stopped drinking. Simona finally faced herself brutally and honestly. She wanted change and is now five months (as of Dec. 2017) into Saint John’s Program…

Chef Arturo Vargas Brings in the New Year!

This January, we welcome Chef Arturo Vargas as our first Guest Chef for Saint John’s Guest Chef Dinner Series! “Teaching and cooking has been my lifetime commitment and passion from the beginning, in Mexico and beyond. After learning about Saint John’s Program for Real Change, meeting some of the wonderful residents, and touring their beautiful facility, I knew I could make a difference!” shares Chef Vargas Chef Vargas first learned…

Santa Joe is Coming to Town!

“I had an alternative sentencing from the Sacramento Court for an expired registration. Instead of paying the fine, they gave me 10 hours of community service. The court handed me a list of all of the different places to choose from, and I chose the closest one to my house… Saint John’s.” Little did Joe know that he would continue to volunteer at Saint John’s for the next 11 years!…

Teach a Person to Fish & They Eat for a Lifetime

I heard about Saint John’s from a couple at my church, Fair Oaks Presbyterian, who have been helping prepare and serve dinner at Saint John’s for 10+ years. They bring various family and friends with them to serve the monthly taco night at Saint John’s, which I have heard is one of the clients’ favorite dinners! My husband and I knew we wanted to serve people and we like to…

HomeAid Sacramento-People Building the Way Home

Saint John’s Program for Real Change is known for inspiring almost magical, personal transformations within the women and children who temporarily call its facilities “home.” Living and learning in the safe and nurturing environment of the sanctuary buildings and grounds, Saint John’s Program participants enjoy the support they need to rebuild and transition their lives. Personal improvement is celebrated, positively ongoing and, at its best, generational. These wonderful life-affirming impacts…

Family & Relationship Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The meaning of domestic violence and our struggle to understand, intervene, and treat the injury and aftermath continues to evolve. Advancing from the early definition of the man who abuses his wife physically, the breadth of domestic violence awareness has grown to better capture how violence in familial relationships impacts the victim, survivor, abuser, and radiates out to family members and social relationships. We…

The First Steps to Success

Like all of the women at Saint John’s Program for Real Change, Sandy and Starr share common qualities – courage, resiliency and strength. And, like all of the women who step through the red door at Saint John’s, they have had their share of adversity and despondency including depression, drug and alcohol dependence, abusive relationships, dysfunctional families, and homelessness. But at the heart of their stamina is a belief in…

The Red Door Stories-Alicia

An innocent, newborn baby…what, exactly, did Mikhayla do to deserve the cruel life she was given? Why did she have to endure a world of such pain few of us can fathom, from the day she was born? The ninth child in a hopelessly broken family, the cold, cruel answer is…nothing. Nothing at all. Like all children, her lot in life was not of her own choosing. Her innocence became…

11-Year-Old Leah Nelson Throws Saint John’s a Surprise Party

To promote and encourage random acts of kindness, Leah Nelson, an 11-year-old visionary from Sacramento, created BecuzIcare11 in July of 2016. Leah’s message of kindness is spread through Rainbow Loom bracelets, made of rubber bands, which are given to people to encourage paying kindness forward. Her pay it forward initiative, has gone viral receiving over 100 million views on social media. Leah has fundraised thousands of dollars to “pay it…

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