On the way back to the office from the Women In Recovery apartment, everyone was quiet. With our rowdy bunch that is a pretty rare occurrence; but as we left the little home that will soon house members of the program, we took with us a few lessons in gratitude.
Our group gusted up the stairs along with the cold front and into the modest two bedroom apartment where we were greeted by two program participants as well as Mimi Tarrasch and Diane Hughes from the Women In Recovery administration. After a quick tour of the apartment that we helped to stock, furnish and decorate, we all sat down to talk about what the apartment will mean to the women and/or children who live there.
First and foremost, this home is a safe place. It is a place where participants can rebuild their lives without fear of being assaulted, burgled, having to move without notice or otherwise not have any control over what happens inside those walls.
It is a home to women who have been living in jail, under bridges, in a car if they were doing really well, squatting in abandoned buildings with no heat or running water or other such things to survive. As one participant said, she had reduced her life to living like an animal in a cage. Now that she has been inside the program for about a year, she is grateful that she no longer has to do that.
It is a step towards independence. The goal of Women In Recovery is to keep nonviolent female offenders out of prison by helping them learn to become self sufficient, productive citizens. Gradually they increase their work hours and take on the responsibility of paying their living expenses.
If you would have asked her a year ago as she was sitting in jail if any of this was possible, Melissa* says she wouldn’t have believed it. While living in her addiction for the last nine years, she thought there were only two ways out—suicide by cop or suicide on her own. Now Melissa is living in an apartment, working and in talks with her supervisor about taking a management position.
When talking about the remarkable transformation of her life, she said simply, “I can find gratitude in anything now. In anything.”
For more information or to donate to Women In Recovery, please call 918-991-6200
*Name changed for privacy