“My children were my motivation. When I wake up, they’re the first things on my mind”
Mother to twins Janeya and Jovanni (now 3), Carmen became a prostitute at age 14 to support her cocaine habit. She got sober while pregnant with the twins, but relapsed after they were born, eventually ending up homeless due to her debilitating addiction. She learned about Saint John’s from her friend Antoinette, an alumna of the program.
“My children were my motivation,” reflects Carmen. “When I wake up, they’re the first things on my mind – just seeing their little eyes kept me going. The friendships I made at Saint John’s are amazing – I love all of these women.”
Although separated from the twins’ father, they had remained friends and he was still in their lives until January 2019, when he was brutally gunned down on the streets of Oakland, presumably a drug-related murder. Carmen steadfastly clung to her sobriety through the grief, despite her devastation. She is now the lead receiving agent on her team at OA Logistics, a receiving warehouse for Chinese imports, and has aspirations of going back to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor. She and the twins live independently in their own apartment.
By Sue Cawdrey
Grants & Communications Manager
Saint John’s Program for Real Change