To celebrate our 45th Anniversary, we’re sharing stories about the people involved with and affected by Friends of Guest House. This month, we got to hear from a probation officer, our Director of Programs, and two Guest House graduates. In case you missed it, here are some of our favorite February highlights!
Jennifer Male started working at Guest House in 1996. First as a monitor, working overnight shifts, before being hired as a full-time case manager – the only case manager on staff at a time when the house had nine residents. After spending eight years working at Guest House, she later became the dedicated probation officer for Guest House clients.
“A lot of their families have kind of left them, so they reach out to me a lot. They don’t look at me as the enemy. That’s how it’s supposed to be – that’s how probation is supposed to be. Sometimes you have to go to the other side and violate someone, but that’s not only what it’s supposed to be … I feel like I’ve seen the cycle of substance abuse, the ups and downs. It’s a roller coaster. And I feel like I can help. Guest House helps the community see that people coming out aren’t bad people – it opens peoples’ eyes. Guest House is very welcoming. Sometimes it’s somebody’s first home. A home they might have never had. It gives love and support they might not have ever gotten – an opportunity to do things differently.”
“God had intervened by then. I was ready to do something different with my life. I was more open to suggestions than being closed to them. I did what I had to do.
They [Guest House] helped me get in therapy.. I have meetings, mentors, sponsorship, recovery picnics.. Everything they’ve done for me I still do today. I journal, I meditate, I read my daily bread every day, whatever I learned in the house I still do… that’s what I share with the women. Little techniques that will help you build your self-esteem. Because we’re broken by the time we get to Guest House.” Terry has hopeful visions for those who enter the program: “I want them to be stable, independent, and know that they are strong, willful women: they can do this, the sky’s the limit: if you just stay sober you can do anything you want. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
“I grew up about 5 blocks from here but moved to California to kind of turn my life around. I had just been released from incarceration and needed some type of drug and alcohol treatment, which I found. I eventually went back to school and got a degree in Addiction Studies. I knew that I had something to offer people that were stuck in a place of addiction and misery. I felt like there was some power to my experiences and my story and I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
For Dan, Guest House is a place of new beginnings and giving back. “I knew when I was finding recovery for myself, that I had a passion for helping other people and this was a great opportunity for me to take a very difficult and troublesome part of my life and turn it into something that would give back to others. This is more than a job to me. It’s the work, the connections, and the relationships that are formed with the residents that feed my soul.”
“When I came to Guest House I was 40 years old. I had a 3rd grade education level, I didn’t know how to read, I never held a job, and I didn’t have a social security card. But FoGH helped me get all of that.
When I came into FoGH I was embarrassed by not being able to read. But then I met Pat Collins. She mentioned she was a retired teacher, so I went up to her and asked her if she would teach me how to read. She said yes and she even helped me get my GED. People used to say ‘ohh the book is better than the movie’ and I thought they were crazy because I never knew what they meant. But now I do! I thank God all the time for this opportunity. I want to pinch myself sometimes because it doesn’t seem real. It’s beyond my wildest dreams and I owe so much of it to FoGH.”
To read Jennifer, Terry, Dan, and Jenny’s full stories, check out our social media pages! We’ll continue to post inspiring stories like these throughout 2019, so don’t forget to follow us to keep up!