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: a permanent position at BloodSource, where she had only been working for two months. It normally takes at least nine months to become hired permanently, but the “Powers that Be” decided to make it official this very day for Kelli.

“I work at BloodSource,” she explained. “It is very purposeful. We are saving lives.”

There could be no better match for a woman who cherishes life the way Kelli does.

Kelli comes from a 30-year cycle of addiction and abuse. She was living a life of destruction. It was only after her many failed attempts at rehab, and in one of those facilities, suffered rape by an employee, that she went back to the dysfunction of the home where her husband and her kids lived.

“We left [rehab] and went back home to so much dysfunction,” Kelli reveals, “until my oldest daughter said, ‘Mom, just leave. Just go. You need to start over!’”

Shortly thereafter, Kelli found Saint John’s Program for Real Change.

How does one go from living in a six-bedroom house to living with six women in one room and call it a miracle?

That is Kelli’s story to tell – how miracles came to her after the mess.

When Kelli found Saint John’s she said, “I was like a zombie coming in.” She had been with two men her whole life, and the thought of being alone was scary. “When I got here, I had no clue what was going to happen. But I trusted God. I believe God graced me with this program in order to do what I had to do.

“The staff were my only friends here,” she explains with a knowing smile. At 53, she was one of the oldest women to go through the program. “Not a lot of women start over at age 53. I really had lost my hope when I got here. My goal was to be here the full 18 months, and I got out in 11 months… I was determined.”

After weaning herself from 14 medications to none, Kelli’s biggest fear now is getting sick. This fear stems from the tragic loss of her own mother and then, years later, her grandmother. She carries the weight of worrying about getting sick and leaving her youngest daughter on her own, especially now that they have a new apartment, a new job for Kelli, and a new future to protect.

But she is confident in her newfound place. “I thank God for even this time that I fell off because for the first time in my life, I’ve encountered this thing called peace. It’s so valuable.”

“I give all the glory to God for dealing with me and my mess.”

Kara Turner, Guest Blogger and Saint John’s Volunteer

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