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Poverty and Childhood

This month’s blog is written by the son of one of our staff members, Jessica. Jessica and her son Dwayne were residents at Saint John’s when Dwayne was just a young boy. Today, Jessica is employed at Saint John’s full-time as a Client Services Coordinator and Dwayne is a student at Sierra College. As I’m sure you’ll see in the blog, Dwayne captures the struggles that he and his mom…

Creating a New Kind of Home

When I first met Vanessa in 2019, what struck me most was her quiet confidence. She appeared calm when focusing on her five children (ages 2-9), composed when encountering customers at Plates Café, and projected an overall sense of being in total control. Little did I know the true story behind Vanessa’s kind eyes. When asked what life was like before coming to Saint John’s, Vanessa replies with one word, “Chaotic.”  While chaos…

Casie’s Real Change

  “I can’t believe the change in me!” Those are the first words out of her mouth as Casie J. shares with me her experience at Saint John’s. Struggling with addiction and lured into drug dealing by the money to be made, Casie’s life began to spiral after her divorce. She’d had a history of periods of sobriety interspersed with lapses into using, dealing and jail time. After her last…

Distance Learning – The Return of the One-room School House

  Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  In fact, I dreamed about what it would be like to run a one-room school house, like on Little House on the Prairie.  Little did I know that I would one day do just that, but in a very different way, in a very different time, and with very different students. With six weeks of distance learning under…

The Luckiest Year

It is Chinese New Year 2020, the Year of the Rat, and a cold, dark January evening here in Sacramento. Rats, as I have read in Chinese lore, represent resilience and rat years are supposed to be years of rejuvenation and renewal. I see this as a positive sign as I head out to meet some friends for an evening at Saint John’s Program for Real Change. We are hosting…

CCTRP in the Days of COVID

Like every other part of our lives in the days of Pandemic 2020, life at Saint John’s Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP) has found a new status quo.  Everything has been affected from the way clients arrive, the daily chores, classes, employment, shopping, schooling, and even when they leave. Arrival. Today, as I write this blog, we are welcoming five new clients arriving from two different institutions. Typically,…

Remembering Frankie Cook

On Sunday, August 16, 2020, a very dear friend of mine, and the Saint John’s family, Frankie Cook, was called home to heaven. I think for most of us who knew and loved her, it still does not feel entirely real. I met Frankie in 2008 when I came to work for St. John’s Shelter, now known as Saint John’s Program for Real Change. I was recruited to start a…

Déjà Vu

Christina C. has been walking through the doors of Saint John’s for almost 10 years. She came to Saint John’s as a victim of domestic violence as well as her own substance abuse. “With most drug addiction you are also addicted to relationships,” she explains.  Today, as a substance use disorder counselor and case manager at Saint John’s, she counsels and supports women like her former self though all the milestones…

It Was Time

  It was time… this time, for sure. Heather B. tells me that a lifetime of bad choices, abusive relationships and drug abuse had brought her to Saint John’s Program for Real Change. Finding herself sleeping, once again, on friends’ couches at age 44, she said it was finally time to end the “roller coaster” that she’d been on for most of her life. In March of 2019, Heather entered,…

A Fresh Start

Three months may not seem like a long time, but for Morgan G., the past three months have been the difference between a life of drugs and homelessness and a life of safety, community and responsibility. Morgan came from an alcoholic and abusive family, and she began abusing drugs, primarily methamphetamines, at 17. Suicidal at one point, she moved from place to place, “enabled by those who didn’t really want…

Rollercoaster

Round and round and round we go. So many of our clients at Saint John’s, women who are trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction, abuse and poverty, women who were raised in families wrought with domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, mental illness and dysfunction, are desperate for a way out. Breaking this cycle is no small feat, one that may be insurmountable for many, but at Saint John’s, women…

The Sound of Optimism

It is odd to “interview” someone via phone, though, during this shelter-in-place time, it seems to be the way we have to do things. In talking with Virginia C., the optimism and hope were palpable in her voice! She was so proud of herself and hopeful for the future, and I could sense her happiness immediately.  Diagnosed with Hepatitis C, Virginia was seriously ill and unable to work effectively at…

A Safe Place

We are in the midst of an historic time, a time of a pandemic that has required extraordinary sacrifice from every American. COVID-19 has strained our health system and our economy, and has forced us indoors to “shelter in place.” For Alyse R., this shelter in place is a better alternative than living on the streets with her eight-year-old son, JT. Diagnosed with autism at a young age, JT is…

A Double Rainbow in the Storm

Looking for some good news during this Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown? Look no further than to Saint John’s Program for Real Change and two young former residents of the program… Athena and Dwayne – both now high school seniors – both heading on to great things after living at Saint John’s with their moms, former clients in our program. Athena is a senior at Grant High School, and after being…

Tenacity and Triumph

Kelli is the type of person everyone is happy to see. She has a grace and ease about her and she works hard to have a positive outlook on life. Just a few short years ago, this was not the case, as she arrived at Saint John’s having endured 30 years of addiction and abuse. In the fall of 2018, Kelli graduated from Saint John’s Employment Training Program after an…

Ariel’s Awakening

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…

Sabrina’s Voice

It’s not often that one meets a classically-trained opera singer, much less one who is a resident at Saint John’s Program for Real Change. Meet Sabrina — here since November after years of living in an abusive relationship and spiraling into depression and alcohol abuse. Sabrina earned a BA and MA in Classical Voice and sang and toured the world with the San Francisco State Chamber Choir for years. How,…

Kinetic KIZZIE

Some people just radiate energy and optimism; that’s the case with Kizzie. She made me smile––and even laugh with her––from the moment I met her. Whether she realizes it or not, that personality is a key part of her whole story. Energy may not always be a good thing; it needs to be directed positively, and for much of Kizzie’s life, it surely wasn’t. An angry young person prone to…

No Looking Back

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes” —Shellee H.’s mantra Shellee H. started using drugs at 18 when her brother died. She’s been to prison three times and to the county jail 25 times. She’s spent time on the streets and lost custody of her son. But make no mistake — she feels blessed today because of Saint John’s Program for Real Change. Dates and details are very important to Shellee:   – 5/17/2019…

Behind a Pretty Face

Heart wrenching to see, and maybe even harder to understand are the depths to which one can fall with addiction. But witnessing one rise out of that chasm and go on to live a full life is an inspiration and a blessing. Katrina is a case study for us all. Raised in a loving family, Katrina was a hard-working young girl who does not fit the profile we might imagine…

Standing On Her Own

Trapped in a marriage with an overbearing, controlling husband, Sarah ultimately turned to alcohol and opioids to cope. While the abuse never became physical, Sarah’s husband would not allow her to work, nor have friendships with anyone “on the outside,” and led her to believe that she could not survive without him and his financial support. After 10 years together and three years of marriage, she gathered up the courage…

Sweet Dreams Come True

At the age of 27, Whitnee M. was a single mother of two living in an abusive relationship. With her children safely staying with their father, Whitnee unfortunately followed her then boyfriend down a dark path of drug addiction and homelessness. It wasn’t until two years later as she sat staring at her children’s school pictures that she realized that something needed to change. “They had grown so much without…

From Ghost to Glory

“I had no voice as a child, and I thought the world was just a dark place.” Imagine feeling like that as a little one … no one really caring, no one paying any attention, feeling “invisible.” No father in the home, a mother battling depression, no teacher acknowledgement, and seemingly no reason to work for anything because no one would care anyway. You are a ghost in the world….

Soaring to New Heights

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life . . . The process is its own reward.” -Amelia Earhart  “Yes! Like Amelia Earhart,” she said, as she introduced herself with a smile.  Amelia S. is an intelligent woman with a kind smile…

Before and After

Saint John’s, a “Before and After” View: Michelle MacLellan Ever wonder how Saint John’s went from 20 homeless women on the steps of St. John’s Lutheran Church in 1985 to a full residential program for over 250 women and children? For some of the answers, we asked Michelle MacLellan, executive assistant to our Interim CEO, Marc Cawdrey. Michelle started a career at St. John’s in 2001 as a “temp” worker…

Taking Control

Originally from St. Croix on the U.S. Virgin Islands, Deja has good memories of living with her mom and five siblings. “Growing up on the islands was nice – playing all day long, running through the grass.” But, by the time she reached her sixth birthday, her carefree life had changed with a move to Miami, Florida. Her two oldest siblings stayed with family on the island and she quickly…

Teens Model Saint John’s Program for Real Change Values

Empowering women….clearly a most important goal for Saint John’s Program for Real Change. It’s interesting, then, that a group of teenage girls has already embodied that goal and is helping the women at Saint John’s by forming their own volunteer circle of help. Started this year by sophomore St. Francis students Amelia Barkett and Anna Kate Cwynar, the group that calls themselves the Teen Circle has decided to work on…

Helping Children Thrive

Casually swinging his enormous battle axe at nearby intruders, the almost human form dressed in black helmet and knight’s plate armor made his way through rundown wood houses and abandoned football stadiums, looting every weapon in sight. If this video game character happens to be “eliminated” by his counterparts, he simply disappears with no pain or consequence. . . a stark contrast to Travis, the 11-year-old Fortnite enthusiast’s reality where…

Sister Act

There is so much behind-the-scenes work that makes a place like Saint John’s Program for Real Change work. The public can see and read about the mission and the results, but what it takes to actually make it all run is almost overwhelming to consider. So, when folks want to become a part of the program by volunteering, there are so many ways to volunteer. Enter Carol Hood and her…

Finding Courage

  “They had faith in me, they uplifted me and provided me with the tools and the structure I needed.”   Fist fights, petty theft, vandalism, loitering, three DUIs, sleeping in the park and abandoned crack houses, smoking dope, up for days at a time and addicted to meth. Add to that an abusive girlfriend who beat her repeatedly, giving her two black eyes and a broken leg. Irais was…

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916-453-1482
email us at:
info@saintjohnsprogram.org
2443 Fair Oaks Blvd, #369
Sacramento, CA 95825-7684
Mailing address only.
Not a physical location.
Nonprofit, 501(c)(3)
(Tax ID: 68-0132934).

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