ISP Impact Stories

Life-changing stories of hope, healing and wholeness


I was 10 years old when I first started using drugs. I was the youngest of six kids, so I used to ask my older brothers and sisters to get me high. I continued to use for the next 21 years. At 31 years old, my ex-wife threatened to take away my two little girls from me if I did not stop using.

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For most of my life, I thought I knew God, but the God I knew was not the God I liked or wanted. The God I knew was cruel and judgmental. He was a God who kept track of all my mistakes and made me pay for each one of them in ways that brought me to my knees.

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I showed up at the St. Martin De Porres House of Hope recovery home on the South Side of Chicago lifeless, penniless and hopeless. I continued to stay there because I had nowhere else to go. I had severed every family tie. I had almost lost the will to live. Through…

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In 2014, I was standing on a street corner in Kent, WA, just released from prison for the 5th time.  My wife had died from a drug overdose, and I also had lost my son and daughter to drugs. At the time I realized that I was all alone… a survivor with nothing to show…

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I took my first drink of alcohol when I was 12 years old. That first drink of alcohol made me feel very powerful and beautiful. I thought I was a smart little girl because I added water to the liquor bottles so that they looked full. My mother came home from work one day and smelled the alcohol.

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Chaos ruled my life for many years. I craved calmness and structure, but I didn’t know how to make that happen on my own. It wasn’t until I recognized that my life had become unmanageable, and I turned it over to God, that I felt a calmness and peace that has stayed with me since.

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I thought by taking on a life of misery, I was taking away the pain from others who were not as strong as me, just as Jesus had done. I thought I was destined to live this life of despair forever, until God gave me hope that my life could be different, meaningful, and productive.

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My love of alcohol started at an early age. I remember when I was little and had a cold, my mom would give me whiskey and honey to make me feel better. Oh, how I loved that taste and that feeling! As I got a little older, I began drinking at parties with other kids… I felt so guilty and full of shame for disappointing my parents, but that wasn’t enough to make me stop.

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I came home from prison in 2015; I was clean and sober by then but without any support from my family, who had stepped back. I ended up in a shelter run by Catholic Charities. The director of the program suggested I might like to go on a retreat. At first, I told him no.

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Ten years ago, I was married with two boys, living in suburban Texas.  I was an accountant; we were an average family.  But some things weren’t going right.  I started drinking more, and drank alcoholically for 5 years.  I wasn’t ready to stop.  read more


I grew up in a family of 9 children with both parents. My father was an alcoholic who drank frequently. My mother was present but was mentally abused and physically battered along with the rest of us. We scraped by, our physical needs met, but emotionally my parents were unavailable. All of us, save one, developed issues with substances…

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Not many of us see ourselves fully as the beloved of God.  It is typically a struggle to accept the fact that we are children of a loving God.  For most of my 44 years, I did not.  Rather, I was convinced that God had cursed me. When I began to steal and use alcohol, I recognized that it held a certain power.  That power enabled me to feel okay… by not feeling at all.  read more


Let’s get some of the facts right out on the table:

  • I’m 63 years old.
  • I’ve been married for 25 years.
  • I come from a strong, faith-based family.
  • I’m retired from my job as a case manager for the homeless and addicted, and
  • I am a recovering alcoholic.

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You can read more about our alumni participants who have experienced life-changing hope, healing, and wholeness, in our book, Stories of Hope