Second Chances

“I’ve learned that if you want something different, you have to DO something different; you have to change everything,” observes Alexandria J., a Saint John’s client and next week’s class representative who will speak on behalf of the 15 graduates walking the stage next Thursday, September 5 at Saint John’s Graduation Ceremony and Guest Chef Dinner at Plates Café.

Alexandria was deep into her heroin and meth addiction for a 10-year period, in and out of programs and in and out of jail for selling drugs to support her habit. During her last three-year sentence, she made the decision to do whatever it took to turn her life around for herself and her six-year-old son, Izayah. She knew that she would return again to the streets once she was released, to what she knew best, unless she made a change. A Saint John’s alumnae told her about the program, and finally, Alexandria was able to affect Real Change.

“I am blessed to have found Saint John’s. This program has changed my life.”

“This is where my journey truly started,” says Alexandria. “Walking through those red doors was the moment where my faith overcame my fear and I was able to put all my trust in my higher power. I was right where I was supposed to be, and I knew He would carry me through no matter what.”

Alexandria paid it forward when her friend Natasha E., whom she met in jail, needed a place to go upon her release. She convinced Natasha, incarcerated for burglary, grand theft auto and identity theft, to come to Saint John’s. Natasha, raised by an addicted mother who was in and out of prison during her upbringing, didn’t know any other life; she became addicted to heroin herself at age 15, and drugs and domestic violence led her to a life of crime.

“I’ve gotten everything out of this program: how to pay bills, how to be responsible, how to develop a work ethic and be a contributing member of society – all of the things I didn’t know how to do being an addict and a criminal,” notes Natasha. “I am blessed to have found Saint John’s. This program has changed my life.”

Natasha will also graduate from Saint John’s on September 5, alongside her friend Alexandria. The two are now roommates, having moved into an apartment together to begin their new lives post-Saint John’s. Natasha now works at Jersey Mike’s, and Alexandria is a closed circuit television (CCTV) operator for American Pipeline Services Environmental.

Everyone deserves a second chance, and we are so proud that Alexandria and Natasha found theirs through our red doors.

By Sue Cawdrey, Grants and Communications Manager, Saint John’s Program for Real Change

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