My name is Jessica and I have been a Pathways client for almost a year. When I first applied to Pathways, my life was in a constant state of unmanageability and stress. I was working two jobs to pay my bills, struggling to survive, with no hope of ever going to college in my future. I had been sober for 3 years but still carried a lot of unresolved issues from my past. I grew up in an abusive home; my mother was a drug addict, and my father was never around. We moved continuously, and I was never in one city or one school for more than a year. I lived in several different homes, with different family members, and eventually group homes. We moved all over the country, lived in sustainable living communities, and often didn’t have access to schools or other resources. I fell behind in school, struggling to read, write, and do basic math. The constant abuse and neglect from my mother left me feeling worthless and not good enough. I became depressed and suicidal, and eventually turned to drugs and street life to escape my home life.
By the time I was 14, I was in and out of juvenile hall and group homes. Eventually I dropped out of high school. The next 10 years of my life were an endless cycle of abusive relationships, drug use, and eventually prostitution. At 23 I ended up homeless, living on skid row, strung out on heroin, and trapped in a life of prostitution because I knew no other way to survive. I became very physically ill and ended up in hospitals, rehabs, and psych wards. This life was all I knew, and I felt that there was no way out.
When I finally got sober, I never imagined I would go back to college to get an education.
Everyone in my immediate family was either a drug addict or in jail. When I got the call that I was accepted into Pathways, I knew everything was going to change for me. I was promised the love, support, and resources I had never been given to be successful. My first semester in college was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I felt that I wasn’t smart enough, not good enough, and undeserving of success. I had so much fear and anxiety that I was going to fail and let everyone done, especially myself. I felt out of place; maybe a street junkie like me didn’t belong in college. I was honest with the tutor that Pathways gave me, explaining that I couldn’t do basic math and even had trouble adding and subtracting. He worked with me twice a week. Through the shame and embarrassment I felt, I eventually got through it, earning an A in the class!
Pathways gave me every resource I needed to be successful in school, including a therapist and a mentor to help guide me. For once in my life I didn’t feel alone and hopeless. Since then I have only become stronger and more determined to be successful to show my gratitude to Pathways. I ended that semester with straight A’s and a 4.0. I was given academic honors, and this semester I was awarded the Bonnie and Radford Memorial Scholarship at Golden West College. I plan to apply to transfer next semester and eventually get my bachelor’s degree in psychology to work with children. I now feel like my possibilities are endless if I try my hardest and don’t give up. Pathways to Independence has been a miracle in my life. I am grateful for all the volunteers and donors who have contributed to this amazing program for women like me to have a second chance at life.