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Erin graduates, starts anew with 3-year-old daughter
As a new Lighthouse graduate, Erin is optimistic about her future, as well as that of her nearly 3-year-old daughter, Brieanne. She is making plans for a new career and has settled into the Transitional Living Program. “It’s now about trusting in the Lord, and handing it all over to him and knowing he has a plan,” Erin said. “I now that this is always going to work out for good, because that’s what he does: makes it easier and better.”
Erin was raised in Ventura in a good family—her parents and two younger siblings. It wasn’t until she first got to college that she started “playing around with drugs,” she said. “Since then, they’ve always taken a toll on my life. My drug issues has always stressed my parents out.”
Erin moved to the East Coast with a boyfriend for three years when she was 21, but when she returned, enrolled and completed nursing school. “I was only a nurse for a short period of time,” she said. “My drug problem made me make very poor choices. I was fired from my job. And then my last job I was arrested. It was the first time I had ever been arrested—I was 32. I was stealing meds. I lost my nursing career and went back to bartending just to be able to get by.”
When Erin was 40, she got pregnant with her daughter. She stayed clean throughout her pregnancy, but right after having her daughter, Erin relapsed. “I was still getting by for a bit, but by March 2019, I had lost my place—I couldn’t afford it—and became homeless for a month.”
During that time Erin got a DUI after being found unconscious in the driver’s seat at an intersection in Ventura. “My daughter was in the backseat,” she said.
Erin’s parents were able to take her daughter and Erin went to rehab for 30 days and then entered a sober living program. But while on probation, she tested positive for drugs. “I had them convinced it was a false positive,” she said. “I just lied. And then I tested dirty again. Brieanne was in the parking lot with my mom waiting for me. But they took me right to jail.
“My daughter was very attached to me. My dad would bring her every Thursday to visit me in jail. It was heartbreaking, but I didn’t want her to think I disappeared.”
After a month in jail, Erin was released into a program in January 2020. Her parents brought Brieanne, who will be 3 next month, for visits four times a week. “I was begging the social worker, ‘Give me my daughter back, please,’” Erin said. “It wasn’t good enough. She wanted me to go to the Lighthouse after four months. I didn’t know about it being faith based. I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord. It was a little uncomfortable at first, the praise and worship especially. The first three months were hard, because of that, and also the community living.
“But now, I’ve come to know my Lord and savior, and I’m amazed. I wish I’d known him sooner. This was all meant to save my life and my daughter’s. It’s been an awesome experience.”
Now, Erin sees that the faith focus is a key difference between the Lighthouse and other programs. “Without God, you don’t have it,” she said. “You don’t really make that change. My counselor was very gentle as far as how she would point things out in a certain way, like acting in the flesh, not the spirit. Or in my attitude and how I was bringing negativity. I had to learn how to love—I wasn’t good at loving other people or myself.
“I am forever grateful for this place,” Erin added. “And this staff, for putting up with me. They’re awesome. Dee has been amazing at helping me to open my eyes to life.”
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