IN HER OWN WORDS Ready to Work Graduate Barbara
My name is Barbara and I am a Ready to Work graduate. I can honestly say that joining the Ready to Work program was one of the best choices I have made for myself in a longtime.
My childhood was not a traditional one. My parents belonged to the Hells Angels Motorcycle gang. Growing up I didn’t realize that my family was different. Everyone I knew belonged to the Hells Angels — it was just the way things were.
I was first introduced to drugs at the age of 11. My 12 siblings and I would watch my parents put marijuana inside car gas tanks and then together we would drive to different houses dropping it off.
I didn’t have the chance to be a kid. I grew up surrounded by drugs and experienced physical and emotional abuse. My father tried to eliminate any behavior that he interpreted as weakness. His mantra to me and my sisters was “You need to be a fighter, not little girls.” This was my life; I was trained to be a fighter. Looking back that was the one gift that my father gave me – the mentality of a fighter – and tenacity to never give-up no matter how hard things got.
At the age of 16 my father married me off to the president of another local gang. I fought hard to change my father’s mind about the marriage, but on my 16th birthday I moved in with my new husband.
The abuse didn’t start right away, it slowly crept into our marriage after I had my second son. One day he came home from a drug run and punched me so hard I instantly fell to the ground. When I was able to get up off my bathroom floor I realized that he had broken my face. During another particularly brutal fight he broke my leg. I wanted out, but I was trapped with nowhere to go. It was around this time that I began using cocaine.
Two weeks after my 28th birthday I woke up in the hospital dazed and in tremendous pain. It took a few minutes for me to remember what actually happened to me and how I ended up laying in a hospital bed covered in bandages. When my memory came back I was flooded with images of beginning tied to the back of my husband’s car and dragged down the street. I knew at that moment I had to find a way out or he would eventually kill me.
With my mother’s help I was able to leave my husband and get a divorce, but my drug habit was getting worse. I supported my family by selling drugs for a while, but my cocaine habit grew out of control. When my sister introduced me to meth that was when things really got bad. I began shoot up and soon nothing mattered to me except getting high. It wasn’t long before I lost my home and my children had to go live with my relatives.
I was homeless, living on the street and I was scared. I found out about Bridge House’s Path to Home program and a case manager offered me the chance to apply for Ready to Work. Soon after I was accepted. I did not want to live my life tangled up in my addiction anymore and I knew Ready to Work was my way out.
I learned at an early age that you have to fight for what you want, and I fought hard to maintain my sobriety. My Ready to Work case manager was always there for me with inspiring advice that helped me find my true, healthy self.
Living at the Ready to Work House, I have been able to rebuild my life and find my self-worth again. It wasn’t easy; I struggled when I first moved in, but I was determined never to live on the street again. The Ready to Work staff was a real support to me and if it weren’t for Widd, John and Heather I would not have made it through the program. My case managers saved my life.
I am proud of myself and all of my amazing accomplishments and now after all of my hard work, I am now employed at Embassy Suites as a housekeeper and I looking for my own place to live permanently. Throughout my whole journey in the program all of the Ready to Work staff were there for me and helped me anytime I got discouraged. Without this program I would still be using drugs and living on the street. I am so grateful for the Ready to Work program.