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 Carmen’s sister, who for years refused to allow Carmen visitation due to her addiction. Carmen heard about Saint John’s while in rehab, and was relieved to find a place that was safe and supportive.
“The staff at Saint John’s loved me until I could love myself.”
“The staff at Saint John’s loved me until I could love myself,” reflects Carmen. “And the other women there helped to uplift me and build me up. If you really want to change, it’s worth everything you have to do at Saint John’s. I thought I would be homeless, pushing a shopping cart around for the rest of my life, but now I have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I had to work hard for it though — it wasn’t just handed to me!”
Carmen’s sister, impressed with her courage, her determination and the change she created in her life, eventually started letting Carmen visit with Olivia, and has now relinquished full custody, reversing the adoption. Carmen is now employed in Environmental Services at UC Davis Medical Center, a job she loves, and she and Olivia are living in their own, beautiful apartment.
By Sue Cawdrey, Grants & Communications Manager, Saint John’s Program for Real Change