Lighthouse Graduate Reconnects with her Children, Finds Love in Christ

Rebecca, a Ventura native, never liked drugs. Her husband was an addict, and she tried for years to get him to quit. “I was very against drugs,” she said. “I hated it. I used to put him down for it.”

In 2001, after having four boys together, Rebecca’s husband died of a heroin overdose. “After he passed away, I wanted to see what he enjoyed about it so much. What was so good about this drug that he chose it over his family? It was like it chose him. When you’re strung out on heroin, the addiction is very, very ugly.”

And Rebecca would know. She started using and then selling drugs. She had three daughters. Then, seven years ago, her house got raided by police. “They found an abundance of drugs, and they took my kids from me,” said Rebecca, in tears. “I was in my addiction at the time and I was very selfish. My family took my kids, so I knew they were safe. I just let them go. I didn’t fight for them.”

Rebecca was in and out of jail and living on the streets for years. But last year, while in jail again, Rebecca found out she was pregnant again. She had her eighth child, another girl, in November 2017. “My daughter was in the hospital for nine days—she had jaundice really bad. I left and came back and they said, ‘You can’t come in. We’re taking her.’”

Rebecca had tested positive for methadone, a drug often used to help people get off of heroin. She had used it during her other pregnancies, but never any other drugs. “I had never had a problem with CPS because of methadone,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t even tell me ahead of time that they were taking her from me.”

Two days later, Rebecca, now 43, came to the Lighthouse. “I’m sober. I haven’t had any drugs, methadone, nicotine—it feels good,” Rebecca said, smiling. “It’s the first time I’ve been sober since 2001 when my husband passed away.”

Rebecca got her daughter back, and they spent nearly a year at the Lighthouse. Rebecca graduated on Oct. 30 and has settled into her transitional housing in Ventura. “My daughter has been the prize at the end of this,” she said. “Good things are happening. I’m drug-free and I have God in my life.”

Rebecca had concerns about the faith-based program, since she hadn’t grown up in church. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it here,” she said. “I had never even opened a bible. In jail I had read some Proverbs and Psalms, but that was it. Reading out of the bible, I’m so in awe now. I’m really interested in learning.”

The program isn’t easy, but it was worth it, Rebecca said. “I tell the new girls, ‘If you have a purpose and a reason to do it, you can get through it.’ Everyone should know that this place is a blessing. It’s a privilege to be here. They help us out so much and are here for us, for the women and the children. A lot of other places they just want your money. We get everything: the clothes on our back, the toothpaste, the diapers … it’s all free. The donors are a blessing, they really are.”

Rebecca has seen some of her former friends on the streets. “There’s nothing to miss about that life,” she said. “I see people doing the same thing, sitting in the same place, but looking worse—they are even wearing the same clothes I saw them wearing 11 months ago. It’s very sad. I’m proud of myself, and I’m happy where I’m at. I have a good future to look forward to. I can’t go back to that.”