From a very early age, I knew my role in life was to protect those around me. 

Growing up in an abusive home gave me the opportunity to rehearse this on a daily basis, as I would try to shield those around me from my father’s violent behavior. This toxic environment created feelings of fear and insecurity within me that will follow me for a lifetime. 

The dysfunction in my home led me to drop out of school in the 10th grade. I didn’t have a plan or any goals. All I knew was I NEVER wanted to be like my dad. Wanting so badly to erase the memories of the abuse, I turned to drugs to numb my pain. 

Unbeknownst to me, I had also been suffering from severe depression. I found myself crippled by the hurt, shame, and guilt of my past, and I felt the world would be a better place if I wasn’t in it. So, I tried to take my life. Thankfully, I was unsuccessful, and I soon realized God had other plans for me. Once my depression was diagnosed, I knew I needed long-term treatment to address my emotional and addiction issues. 

I was at Grace Centers of Hope for four days when I realized, “God really DOES have a plan and a purpose for my life.” It was the staff that helped show me the importance of going back to school, and they encouraged me to work toward obtaining my GED. It took many hours of studying, problem-solving, and self- discipline, but I am proud to say I did it! 

God has used my life’s experiences and the training I received at Grace Centers of Hope to equip me for the jobs I have now. I am a security officer and a resident assistant for our men’s program. I not only protect, but I am also a mentor to the men, many of whom are struggling with the same issues I once had. 

God has been so faithful to me, even in the times when I turned my back on Him. 

I am so thankful for all the people God placed in my life this past year: my case manager, who helped me heal the wounds from my childhood and set me on the path to recovery, and the teachers and volunteers at the Career and Education Center, who were instrumental in helping me obtain my GED. I am also so grateful for the supporters of Grace Centers of Hope who truly gave me my life back by giving faithfully to this amazing organization.