But this time, she wasn’t going to spend the night – she was taking a tour of Siloam Mission for a college assignment.
This brings back memories of another life, she said.
Many of those memories are painful.
Five years ago, Cindy was supporting a chronic crack habit by prostituting herself while desperately trying to find a way out.
If I hadn’t found this place, I would not have gotten clean. Coming here showed me that I had options. It showed me that I had potential, she said, pointing to the bed she used to sleep in.
I knew if I came here I would be safe.
Everyone was so friendly here.
They always made you feel welcome.
When I came here, I felt like an equal. It gave me comfort.
Although she’s been on her own since she was 14 years old, Cindy never turned to drugs or prostitution until she fell into a depression as a single parent living in social housing.
Drugs sneak up on you so fast. Everybody noticed my crack problem, except for me, she said.
One day, Cindy got a call from the school her son was attending.
They told me they were taking my son away from me… because he went to school with no shoes on, she said, holding back tears.
I was on a binge and didn’t even put shoes on him.
Cindy lost her son to foster care, hit rock bottom, ended up homeless and decided to give life a second go. This time, sober.
I realized that I was the one who got me into this mess, and so I had to be the one to get me out of it, she said.
After coming clean, Cindy started going to school to become an addictions counselor – and she started planning for a better future.
I’ve already been through the worst part of my life. I remember that torment of that life. All the garbage I went through… I just don’t wish to ever go back there again, she said.
I have to learn how to forgive myself and move on. I can’t carry the past with me anymore.
After finishing school, Cindy plans to get a full-time job helping other people in need beat their addictions – and she wants to gain custody of her son again.
If I hadn’t gotten clean, if I hadn’t found a dry shelter,
I would be dead right now. Siloam literally saved my life.
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