My name is Margaret. Just one year ago I was in federal prison for selling drugs. Just six months ago I was homeless. Today I live in a four bedroom house with my four children. This is my story of how Barrett House helped me go from living on the streets alone to living in my own home with my beautiful children.
Growing up in Albuquerque, there were a lot of problems in my house. My parents divorced and the chaos of their lives left me without any structure. I dropped out of high school and started using drugs. As my life spiraled downward, I found myself unable to take care of my children so I left them with family members while I lived on the streets. I began selling drugs in the hopes that I could save up enough money to find a place to live and get my children back. But the plan backfired. I never saved any money and then one day I was arrested for selling drugs. I spent two years in federal prison for distributing drugs. Because there was so much over-crowding in the jails, I spent the entire two years in a holding facility without access to any educational or vocational programs. It was awful. The only good thing to come out of those two years was that I was able to get sober. By the time I was released, I had been clean long enough that I was able to get custody back of my wonderful children. Being separated from them had inspired me to get sober and being back with them kept me motivated to stay sober. Once I was sober and had my children, I knew I needed to make a change to end my cycle of homelessness. But I also knew I needed help to do it. I decided to ask the Barrett House for help. The Barrett House took me and my children in. We were given a room and bathroom that we could call our own. We stayed at the Barrett House for three months. During those months my children and I were able to experience stability. We were able to catch our breathe and get to spend time together without always being worried about where we would sleep or eat. While the kids went to school every day, I attended career counseling services, gained confidence, learned interview skills and created a resume. I was able to restore myself, my mind and create better relationships with my children. The staff was so encouraging of my sobriety and my employment search. I am proud to say that after three months of staying at the Barrett House, I was able to rent a four bedroom house for myself and my children. These days, we are making a home together. They inspire me to do better everyday. I wake up each morning grateful to be healthy and sober and glad to have the opportunity to be a role model for my children, to show them that even when things are hard, every day is another opportunity to live a better life.
My name is Juanita and I grew up in New Mexico state custody and have lived in several foster homes, shelters, residential treatment centers and even the children’s psychiatric hospital. At 20 years old I was homeless. The shelters in the past could not accept me because I was considered an adult. I had no life skills; I was institutionalized and told I would never make it in the real world.
One day, I was sitting on a curb. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I walked to a gas station and asked if they could contact a homeless shelter for me. The employee at the gas station was a very nice lady, and she gave me a ride when she finished her shift at 3 a.m. She drove me to a local overnight shelter where I slept with my shoes on because I did not feel safe. I was right. It was one of the worst places I have ever been. Then someone suggested I get on the list for The Barrett House. I finally did and it was so clean and safe, I was able to get out of survival mode. They had a housing program where an apartment is provided for you, and they assist you with your rent. I only had to pay 20% of my income towards rent each month. I had my own place for the first time in my life. When I got the apartment they gave me a care package. I used everything in it and kept the basket until it unraveled. One day I happened to walk into Fred Astaire’s Dance Studio, just because I was curious about taking lessons and how much it might cost. They told me they were hiring and that they would train me. That was my first real job. The housing program enabled me to take an entry level position and work my way up the ladder of success to become a dance instructor which I still am to this day. Dancing taught me so much, and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity had it not been for Barrett. I have never been homeless since.
It is my hope that you will understand how important of a role Barrett Foundation played in my life. Barrett enabled me to have an opportunity to grow and prosper and to find my way out of the cycle I was in. I am forever grateful.