Wanda's Story

My drug addiction began when I was 16 years old. It continued for more than 40 years during which I was incarcerated three times, attended substance abuse rehabilitation five times, was fired from two jobs and spent 14 years living in homelessness.

Right before I found Beacon of Life I was living with a friend who could no longer tolerate my drug addiction. She asked me to leave and I went to the homeless shelter. Soon after that was the second time I lost my job for doing illegal drugs while working. My truck was wrecked and all of my possessions—everything I owned—were stolen. At this point, I hit rock bottom and planned to end my life. I didn’t see any reason to go on.

Thankfully I turned to Broadlawns Medical Center for help and spent 19 days in their Sands Mental Health Unit. I was then referred to MECCA Services treatment center and spent three weeks in an in-patient treatment program. MECCA and my wonderful counselor, Teri, laid the groundwork for my recovery, but it wasn’t until I arrived at the Beacon that I really began to grow into the person I feel I was meant to be. When I walked into Beacon of Life, I saw brightly painted walls and two happy little dogs – Harley and Jackson - barreled down the hallway to meet me. I thought, “Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself in to?” I was filled with so much hate, anger and resentment but this greeting made me feel a little bit better about this new place.

Somehow I settled in at the Beacon and their programming and eventually life became easier. The Beacon and its people gave me hope when I was hopeless and pulled me up when I was feeling down. I learned to bond with other women in the house when previously I isolated myself from others. The Beacon women, though, gave me confidence in myself and abilities. I learned to share my feelings with them, and I learned to listen to what they had to say. I also learned respect and to be accountable for my actions. I had always been a follower rather than a leader, but at the Beacon I was given the courage to fly. I feel like I can now deal with any difficulty or obstacle that comes my way because I’m a strong, proud, independent woman. Above all, I learned to love myself and who I am.

I lived at the Beacon for 22 months and I’ve been sober ever since. Now I have a management position at my job, a vehicle, and my own apartment. My life is so much better and if not for the Beacon I wouldn’t be here to live it. I am so blessed to have been a part of Beacon of Life and to have met all of the people there who helped me in my journey to self-recovery and empowerment. I thank the staff—Linda, Pat, and my dear friend Barbara—for all of the wisdom they’ve given me and I also thank Julie and Keshia for making me into the woman I am today. I love them and I’m so grateful for all that they have done for me.