Reclaiming Dignity

“I’m so grateful for [Our Saviour’s Housing]. I would never have survived and owe my life to everyone who has been involved in my journey. I was able to start over. You guys help people get their dignity back. I feel human again.”

By the time Clarice was in her 30s, she was married, had three daughters, and owned her own successful business inspecting properties for mortgage companies. Then, 22 years into their marriage, Clarice and her husband divorced. She met a man who introduced her to crack cocaine, which quickly became an addiction. At her lowest point, Clarice sold her business and blew the money on drugs. She pushed her family away, lost her home, and began living out of her car.

Clarice made multiple attempts to get sober, but nothing worked until she found a treatment center that addressed drug addiction and mental health together. Clarice never even realized she had a mental illness until they diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and PTSD from previous abuse.

By treating both her mental health and her addictions, Clarice started down the road to recovery. She completed an associate’s degree at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and began a bachelor’s in alcohol and drug counseling at Metro State University. Her career choice, she says, is her way of giving back to the community, as well as a return to an old dream. “I wanted to be a counselor since high school, but then drugs got in the way.”

When she graduated from the treatment program, Clarice moved into a halfway house. After staying the maximum 18 months, she found herself in desperate need of stable housing. The only alternatives were to go back to the streets or move in with the man who introduced her to crack.

Fortunately, Clarice found Our Saviour’s Housing. On March 1st, 2012, she moved into her own apartment through the Permanent Supportive Housing program. Having her own home did wonders for her self-esteem. Clarice reflects on the change: “I like me now. There were probably two years where I did not look in the mirror. I literally avoided it. And now I can.”

Stability also helped Clarice find work and save money. In January, Clarice began part-time work at the Park Avenue Center, a drug and alcohol treatment facility. She graduated summa cum laude from Metro State last May and transitioned to full-time employment at Park Avenue in June!

Now, at age 56, Clarice prides herself on her successes. She met all of her five-year goals – graduating from college, being employed, being housed, rebuilding her relationships with her daughters, and reaching five years of sobriety! She still lives in the same apartment she moved into when she entered PSH but now maintains her home all on her own!

Looking forward, Clarice has her sights on new goals. She plans to go back to school to get her licensure as a professional clinical counselor. She wants to treat people out of her own office, specializing in trauma and chemical dependency. She also hopes to take the international licensing exam, so she could practice abroad. The Caribbean sounds especially nice!