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HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS

Church@thePark employee

Say hello to Ana.


Ana is an outreach case manager with C@P. She shared her story at the storytelling event and agreed to share it here. One of the aspects of our work that was highlighted at the event was our partnership with Salem Health. We participated in a project with Salem Health to see what would happen if we specifically targeted services towards unsheltered people who were frequent users of emergency services (9-1-1, ambulance, and hospital). The project demonstrated that when people have safe, stable, and supportive shelter, there is a drastic reduction of the burden placed on emergency services. Ana was not a part of that project, but her story has a similar plot.


Church@thePark Storytelling Event
Ana sharing her story at the Storytelling Event (Krystal / C@P)

Here is what she shared: During my last relapse, between December 22, 2021 and February 25, 2022, I visited the ER 17 times, including 3 visits within 36 hours.


Homelessness and addiction can happen to anyone, and I never imagined it was going to happen to me. I grew up in a christian home and graduated with honors. I was studying to be a private pilot and held accounting and bookkeeping jobs. During that time I was very co-dependent and dealt with a lot of anxiety. I drank daily to cope and was a functioning alcoholic for a long time, until I wasn’t. I lost jobs left and right and began hanging out with the local drunks. At the time we were living with a grandparent. Because of my excessive drinking, there came a point when my mom told me I had to stop drinking or leave the house. I chose to walk out that day and that is how I became homeless. That bondage led me from jumping from city to city then state to state, staying with friends and family, burning bridges in the process, and back on the road trying to figure out my next step. I thought if I changed my environment I would change. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that that's not how it works. I tried to get sober through detox, rehab, 5150s and AA (AA didn’t work for me because I knew that addiction is not a lifelong disease), but I couldn’t manage to stay sober, everytime I relapsed harder and harder. During this entire time, I knew God could free me from addiction and I never gave up on that hope. To be a female homeless addict comes with a lot of bad choices and chaos. I hung out with people that I thought cared about me but was taken advantage of almost all the time. I began to lie and steal for my addiction and wanted to drink as much as possible to forget and black out. I began having seizures from not having alcohol or not enough alcohol in my system, sometimes 4 a day. That is how I was at the hospital so many times. There were times I went because I was scared I'd die of a seizure and I knew if I was at the ER, I was safe and had the chance to live. There came a lot of points where I knew I wanted out, but it wasn’t until I was back home in LA when the time came. I went back home to get sober but unfortunately, was back on the streets with the local drunks. One night around 3am, I couldn’t sleep and felt like I needed to drink. I left my moms and walked a few blocks down. Three of my “friends” were in a car drinking Bacardi. I went and joined them, but nothing was happening. I started getting anxious and thought maybe I needed wine. It was now 6am and the alcohol still wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t getting drunk anymore. I knew at that point that God came through and I was on my way to the hospital to detox. My mother and brother were praying for me non-stop during this process. Thankfully in LA the hospitals keep you for a few days to detox you. I had to go twice because of how severe my withdrawals were. Once I was sober, they both asked me what I wanted to do, I told them I wanted to go back to Salem because that's where I was already trying to start a life. I was lost and chained by the addiction of alcoholism and God delivered me from it. By the grace of God, I am here to say that I am a living testimony of the power of God! The desire and cravings of alcohol are completely gone. I do NOT have to struggle with this for the rest of my life because Jesus broke my chains and opened the prison door I was in. There is freedom and victory over addiction! Jesus gave me a new heart, a new spirit and is continually renewing my mind. And I don’t go through any trauma from my past because I rely on God's promises and His Word. I am thankful for God not changing me everytime I asked, He had a greater purpose and that’s why I am here today speaking to you. God willing, I am coming up on two years of sobriety! I have my own place, a car and a job that I have been able to hold down. I do outreach case management and walk alongside whoever allows me to be a part of their journey, to show that they are loved and there is freedom. Because of what I went through, I am able to understand others and have compassion for them. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) All the glory is to God!

Thank you, Ana, for being brave and vulnerable enough to share your life and your story!


 

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