2016 GRADUATE IS STILL EFFECTING CHANGE AS LIGHTHOUSE STAFFER
Rebecca grew up in the Bay area with three siblings and her mom. Life was good, Rebecca said, but she still started smoking and drinking when she was just 14. She had no idea that “trying new things and having fun” would lead to a life of addiction, homelessness, and jail time.
At 19, Rebecca became pregnant with her son. She was able to stop using “hard drugs,” but continued to smoke marijuana. “I was really happy when I got pregnant,” she said. “I loved being pregnant and wanted my son.”
The father of her son did not stop using either. Because of this, after several months Rebecca was pulled back into using harder drugs and alcohol. “I started mixing coke and meth,” she said. “It wasn’t a drug of choice. I just needed something harder than before.”
Due to drug use and abusive relationships, Rebecca lost custody of her son; her mom adopted him. “I turned my back on my mom and my family when she adopted my son,” she said. “It really hurt our relationship.” For the next several years Rebecca would go in and out of sobriety.
During a time of sobriety, Rebecca attended school and obtained her Certified Nurses Assistant’s license. “I was a CNA for six years, but then started using again,” she said. “I quit working. I ended up homeless for a few years—sleeping on couches, in parks, in bathrooms.”
Times got even darker for Rebecca. “I struggled with depression for many years and tried to commit suicide a few times. I was on life support in my late 20s, early 30s.”
After stealing a car, Rebecca ended up in jail. While in jail she knew she needed to change. “I sought out help and someone told me about the Lighthouse,” she said. Rebecca entered the shelter first and eventually entered the Lighthouse Life Recovery Program.
The program helped Rebecca see that she needed God to get clean and stay sober. “I was ready!” said Rebecca, and others saw it too. After a few weeks, Rebecca visited a friend. “My friend told me to stay in the program and to keep getting better. She could see a difference.”
Rebecca had some knowledge of God, but the program opened her eyes. “I was ready to learn about God and I thought I had nothing to lose by choosing to believe,” Rebecca said. “I wanted to know more about Him and I am so glad I did because God has changed everything about me.”
The staff and other women in the program encouraged Rebecca. “I had so many questions about God and who He was,” she said. “I loved the community here.” In 2016 Rebecca graduated from the Life Recovery Program and became an intern at the Lighthouse.
The life skills and newfound relationship with God gave Rebecca the confidence and stability she needed to intern, maintain a job at a local restaurant, and obtain housing.
After Rebecca’s internship, she became employed at the Lighthouse. She was the house manager for the Transitional Living Program, and is now a Guest Services Associate. Rene Camper, the Lighthouse’s Program Manager, said Rebecca is a blessing to have on staff. “She knows how the program works and is able to implement the love of Christ while holding fast to the policies put in place,” Camper said. “She is loved by participants and coworkers.”
Learning and receiving the love of God has given Rebecca the courage to share about her addiction, depression, and attempts at suicide. “God has redeemed me and by his love and kindness I am free of depression,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca’s relationship with her son is slowly being restored. Her previous offense was cleared, she got her driver’s license back, and she continues to thrive working at the Lighthouse. “I could not do any of this without God’s help,” she said. “The Lighthouse is my family and I cannot imagine life any other way.”