From Homeless, Addicted and Beaten to Proud and Productive

We love sharing our client’s success stories with you! Get to know Darleen, an inspirational former client, by reading her story below. Feel free to leave her a message of encouragement under comments; she will welcome the voice of support!

When Darleen completed a local rehabilitation program in 1991, which included 12-step meetings and counseling, she assumed her life would take a positive turn. However, she was not prepared for the loss of her mother in 1999; and unfortunately, the recovering addict’s life spun into turmoil. In an effort to return her life to stability, Darleen erroneously turned to romance.

“I met a man and thought we had the same goals. Like me he was clean and sober, and I thought we were going to have a life together,” Darleen remembers. Unfortunately, this feeling of elation did not last long, as the partner soon relapsed and dragged Darleen into addiction once again. Soon after, physical abuse began, although Darleen admits that she also participated in the violence. Bouts of heroine and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and prison stays ensued.

Finally, Darleen decided she had had enough. She sought help through the Coalition’s Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC).

“I realized that I didn’t want that anymore… and I reached out. I called WRCC; they saw the bruises and saw that I was hurting…They made a bed available and I moved in.” Darleen’s road to true recovery had begun.

During her time at WRCC, Darleen was assigned a case manager who worked with her to create an
individualized plan to return to self-sufficiency. For Darleen, that plan included encouragement to continue working, the opportunity to attend education courses through the Coalition’s on-site Orange County Public Schools LifeStrides program, and the ability to attend support groups and counseling through the Coalition’s VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) program. At the time, the Coalition did not have a formalized women’s substance abuse recovery program, so Darleen was encouraged to attend local 12-step program meetings, which she gladly did. The mix of services gave Darleen the hand-up she needed to work on her recovery.

“Because of my desire to move forward and excel, the Coalition…helped me to realize that I can succeed, and I did,” Darleen smiles broadly. “I am now a proud, productive person, and I am happy.”

Although Darleen speaks highly of the staff and programs at the Coalition, she believes her greatest benefit was actually the support she received while there. Her primary sources of encouragement were from Ms. Brenda Baisden, the adult education teacher in Lifestrides; from Cynthia, a wonderful friend she gained while at WRCC; and from the VOCA support group.

Darleen first met Ms. Brenda when she began attending the Lifestrides classroom. Under her teacher’s recommendation, Darleen attended a local technical institution to gain a certificate as a Help Desk Analyst and also took an accounting course. LifeStrides provided support for the cost of books and tuition, and Darleen attributes her desire to do well in school to Ms. Brenda’s constant encouragement.

Cynthia, Darleen’s friend from WRCC, was also a source of significant support. Both women entered the Coalition’s WRCC program with the intention of straightening out their lives, but neither expected to gain lifelong friendships from the program. Today, Darleen speaks with pride about her friend’s accomplishments and enthusiastically confirms that they are still friends.

Finally, Darleen also credits the VOCA support group at WRCC with providing her invaluable life lessons. Through this group, she learned to move beyond the past to forgive others and herself. This has enabled Darleen, as she says, to “Stand up, be a woman, and move forward.”

To read the rest of this story and find out what Darleen’s ultimate dream is, check out our fall newsletter.