At age 12, when most girls experiment with make-up, Jen experimented with drugs. “I grew up around them,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘This is what grown-ups do.’ I never really had control.” Jen’s lack of control and drug use eventually led her to crime.

While in jail, Jen says, “I knew something had to change.” She was offered 30 days in rehab upon her release, but was turned out of the program after a week and began using drugs again.

Her next move was to Simonka Place. “As soon as I walked in the doors, I knew this would be where I’d get my life together and become a woman of God. I just felt God’s presence right away. I knew I would be okay.”

Soon Jen settled into a sense of real community with the women at Simonka Place. “I’ve never had so many friends who cared! We cry together, we laugh together, we get mad at each other and make up. They don’t run away when they see the real you. It’s all about relationship.”

Jen’s new-found relationships didn’t end there. She says, “I’ve known God before, but I never knew Him like I know Him now.”

She also reconciled with her family, including her dad and brother, now sober. “They’re very proud of me. My mom and dad say, ‘It’s a miracle that you’re here and that you’re sober. You’re calm and peaceful. It’s the Jennifer we used to know.”

Jen believes that when she leaves Simonka Place, the Lord will open a door to a career in service to others, “to make a difference, just like a difference was made in my life.” She looks forward to raising her eight-year-old daughter, Adrianna, who told her, “God answered my prayers. You’re getting better!”

You answered Jen’s prayers with your generosity to UGM. “My life has done a 180. I’ve gotten to know God. I’m happy and I’m becoming myself.”

Check out other stories of hope in our upcoming newsletter and on our blog, 365 Days of Hope.

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