When Shirley arrived at UGM’s Simonka Place for Women and Children last spring, she knew her way around. This was her fifth time here and her second in our New Life Fellowship recovery program. However, this time something was different. Shirley was finally ready to succeed.
Since she left the program in 2015, Shirley says, much had changed in her life. “My attitude, my age, my heart, my mind. I think I’ve mellowed a lot.” Growing up in an abusive household had led Shirley to start drinking at an early age. Years of addiction to alcohol and drugs cost Shirley her job, her home and her family. “Things just kept getting worse and worse.” During some of her toughest times, Shirley came to Simonka Place for help.
“When we come here, it’s always out of desperation, but that’s how God gets us to come.” Rejected by her children, Shirley had gone on a two-week drug binge and hitch-hiked to Salem to stay with a friend. “We got drunk and high,” she recalls, “and the next day he brought me here.” When Shirley walked through the doors of Simonka Place for the fourth time in 2017, it was very humbling. But she wasn’t alone.
“I had a lot of friends who were here before. I wanted what they had. I said, ‘If they could do it, I can do it.’”
Equipped with hope and inspired by her friends, Shirley knew God was protecting her. I had a new outlook. I wasn’t fighting every step of the way. I got my GED this time right away!” Focused and sober, Shirley reconciled with her family and met her newest granddaughter, Athena. A month later, Shirley was baptized and her family came to celebrate with her. “I have hope now. I see my future coming back,” says Shirley. “My heart and passion is to work with the elderly. I wish I could do hospice care.”
Since coming to Simonka Place, Shirley says God has been so good to her, she feels spoiled. “I’m not asking for riches or anything, just the love of my family. Every time I pray about something that’s good, all my prayers get answered.”