We are so proud and honored to have been contacted by our state’s First Partner Jennifer Newsom, who invited Saint John’s client Ariel B. to serve as her personal guest to attend the Governor’s State of the State Address at our state capitol on February 19. Ms. Newsom remembered Ariel by name after having toured Saint John’s in the fall, and was incredibly moved by her story, her determination and perseverance. Newsom is not the only one to be impressed by Ariel, as she was chosen by her fellow graduates to serve as their class representative and featured speaker at our December Employment Training Program graduation ceremony and Guest Chef Dinner.
This journey was far from easy, but it was one that was more than worth it.
“I wanted a family so bad, I was willing to put up with things that I knew were beneath me,” comments Ariel, a survivor of domestic violence and addiction. “This journey was far from easy, but it was one that was more than worth it. I finally feel like myself again. I have my strength, my independence, my confidence, my faith in Jesus and best of all, my beautiful children.”
Ariel first arrived at Saint John’s in June, 2018, with her two young children (a one-year-old daughter and five-month old son), having fled a home life wrought with addiction and abuse. After just four months in the program, and convinced it “would be different this time,” she returned to her abuser, only to find herself in jail two months later on charges of domestic violence, a victim who dared to fight back. Once released, she returned to Saint John’s, this time humbled by her loss of freedom, the loss of her car and her job, and realized that this was the wake-up call she truly needed. It was time to be accountable.
Clean and sober for 16 months, Ariel now has a savings account, she has worked to improve her credit score and will start a new job this week at UC Davis Medical Center. Working toward affecting Real Change in her life through Saint John’s, she credits meditation, her faith, her friends and family, the staff at Saint John’s and most of all, her children, for helping her through the roughest days.
“Choosing to come back wasn’t an easy decision at first, because I was afraid to face the music,” she reflects. “But it was the best decision of my life.”
By Sue Cawdrey, Grants and Communications Manager, Saint John’s Program for Real Change