RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT – Nita B.

Nita B is a recent graduate of Marian House. She is prospering and giving back to others, inspired by her time and the relationships she built in our program.

Nita and grew up in Baltimore and was raised primarily by her grandmother. Her life was rooted in generations of poverty and a struggle for survival. She received little affection, had poor self-esteem, and was searching for a sense of belonging throughout her life.

Nita never understood Christmas gifts, and always wondered why anyone would bother expecting them. It’s not like Santa was going to visit her house anyway; she didn’t even have a chimney. She remembers being seven years old and hearing that Christmas was just around the corner. Curious, Nita walked around the corner – and got beat up. She never believed in Santa after that.

At age 12, her mother began caring for her and her siblings off and on. By that point, Nita had experienced poverty and molestation, among other traumas. To cope, she built barriers in her heart, acting like a tough tomboy, all the while attempting to bury the little girl inside who wanted to be loved.

By the time she was an adult, Nita was homeless, addicted, selling heroin, and struggling with her mental health. It was a dark, sad, confusing, and unmanageable time. Looking back, she realizes, “I was looking for death everywhere and couldn’t find it.” Nita vacillated in and out of prison, but she kept hearing about Marian House. As she learned more about the program, she knew it was a place she wanted to be. During her most recent incarceration, she wrote Marian House a letter, requesting admission. She completed her intake interviews and was accepted into the program, giving her the opportunity, that Nita says, “Gave me my life back.”
Nita was ready to embrace change, and she was thrilled to arrive at Marian House in October of 2020. It was warm, welcoming, and full of optimism. Even the small things gave her a feeling of self-worth and hope: she had a key to a real door, not a nail in an abandoned house. She had a space that was all her own.

Most importantly, Marian House was full of people who believed in her. Nita believes the best thing about Marian House is their holistic approach to healing. She attributes much of her success to our multifaceted approach which includes rules, daily routines, lessons in financial literacy, computers training, job training, therapy, and addiction counseling. She is grateful for sessions with Ms. Beth, who taught her to embrace change. She was able to discuss her feelings and experiences in a safe place. She learned to navigate and critique her old life and develop skills to make her new life better. She also worked with Ms. Cindy, our Substance Abuse Counselor, learning love, forgiveness, and healthy boundaries. She credits this with improving her relationship with her family. She used to believe the adage “blood is thicker than water,” but she now understands, “even water has boundaries.”

While at Marian House, Nita learned how to write a resume. She was able to gain her first-ever work experience as a receptionist for Marian House, which helped open doors to employment. She learned how to save money and discovered a passion for cooking. She realized the rules and routines of Marian House fostered self-discipline, which in turn, helped her achieve success. Nita received her very first Christmas gifts while a resident at Marian House. When she saw a pile of gifts just for her, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I was like a kid in a candy store!” she laughs. Her favorite gift? A set of jacks like she always wanted as a girl. To this day, she keeps a picture of them on her phone.

Nita graduated from Marian House in January 2022. She is excited to be getting her own apartment any day now. She is employed as a peer counselor. She is also working on gaining her state counseling certification. She is passionate about telling her truth and using it to help others. Thanks to Marian House, Nita knows that part of her calling and purpose is “to give back what was so freely given to me.”

Resident Spotlight – Ayana Andrews

Ayana Andrews grew up in Baltimore.  Her father was a professional football player for the Miami Dolphins and her mother was a social worker.  Her childhood was wonderful until her parents separated when Ayana was 10. Their divorce left her feeling pain and anger that she then carried into adulthood.

At a young age, she turned to drugs to help her cope with life’s hardships. Ayana spent the next couple of years in and out of recovery programs and started using heroin at 30 years old. She came to Marian House in 2020, her second stay with us a decade after leaving our program the first time. She knew if she came back to Marian House that she would learn to love herself again and be supported by a caring team who will help to build her back up and regain her confidence.

Throughout the years, Ayana focused on trying to improve her life by getting trained in various occupations in the medical profession. She was a pharmacy technician for many years and then became a peer recovery specialist.  Ayana now works at the Bayview Hospital emergency room as a peer recovery advisor.

“It feels so good being a peer recovery coach.  It has allowed me to give back what was given to me,” Ayana stated.  “It is amazing!  Now I can be who I really am,” she continued.

“The Bayview ER is always overwhelming and crowded,” Ayana said. “The disease of addiction is worse than people know.”   Ayana says she is doing great now and knows that Marian House offered the best opportunity for her to heal and keep the focus on her well-being.    She stays in contact with her AA sponsor and has built a big network through her sobriety. Ayana stated, “You have to be responsible for your own recovery. I trust the process at Marian House.  You must be honest that you have a problem and need advice.  You have to be constantly on guard from temptations because addiction is for a lifetime.”

Ayana is now in our Marian House II program, which offers a more independent living environment in a community setting with other women who are striving to achieve similar goals for independent and healthy living. Her goal is to get a master’s degree in social work.   Ayana said, “I want to learn and grow and be the best I can be.”

 

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RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT – Keya Gardner

Keya Gardner is a recent successful graduate of the Marian House program. She has much to be thankful for but that has not always been the case. 

Keya describes her early years as difficult, indicating that she was always getting into trouble and “running with the wrong crowd.” Keya’s parents had an abusive relationship. Her mother had a substance use disorder, and left the father when Keya was 10 years old. Keya began to use alcohol and drugs at the age of 12, and soon she, too became addicted.

Keya attributes the behaviors that led to an 11-year incarceration when she was 24 years old to much pent-up anger throughout her childhood. Upon her release in February 2019, Keya went to a recovery program where she spent 6 months addressing her substance use issues. 

Keya entered the Marian House I program in the fall of 2019. When asked what she most enjoyed about Marian House, Keya responded, 

 

“Everything! They helped me readjust to society. They taught me how to budget and how to keep to a schedule. They provided the structure I needed. I don’t think I ever got a warning for bad behavior!” 

 

 

Keya took part in the Job Readiness program, a requirement for all the women in Marian House I. During mock interviews on the last day of the class, she scored so well that she was accepted into the Johns Hopkins on-the-job training program for an administrative position, the first Marian House resident to do so. Upon completion of her training, Hopkins did not have an administrative position available. Instead, they offered her a job in another area until a Talent Acquisition Specialist position opened up. “They didn’t want to lose me,” Keya stated. Keya is often mentioned by Johns Hopkins as one of their best employees. She has definitely set the bar high for future referrals from Marian House to Johns Hopkins! 

Keya moved on to the Marian House II program on March 2, 2020, and enjoyed the independent living that comes with that setting. Keya said,

“Marian House really prepared me for living on my own and having to be responsible for my life.”

After working at Johns Hopkins for a year and saving a substantial amount of money, Keya moved into her own apartment on February 28th, 2021. Here she is reunited with her two daughters Tay (18) and Liyah (13). They live in a 3-bedroom, 2 ½ bath house with a fenced in back yard. She is still working at Johns Hopkins and hopes to pursue CNA / GNA training in the near future. She also works part-time as a House Manager at a local drug treatment program. “I am in a good place and look forward to  the opportunities in store for me and my daughters in the future,” said Keya.

The future is bright for Keya and her daughters. We are so glad that she found her way to Marian House and we are proud to call her a Marian House graduate!

 

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RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT: SACHE

RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT
Saché grew up in a tight-knit family in the Park Heights neighborhood of Baltimore. She is the oldest of 5 siblings, with 2 brothers and 2 sisters. She had her first drink at the age of fifteen, but it wasn’t until she was twenty-two that she began to abuse alcohol as a means to cope with the abusive relationship she was in. After multiple attempts, Saché was finally able to leave her abusive partner, but the addiction to alcohol had developed into a vicious cycle in her life. Over and over, period s of sobriety and stability would be followed by relapse, loss of job and home. Another attempt at recovery would eventually end in relapse, and the cycle continued.

“When I was just focused on working, I had no time for recovery. That’s been my problem in the past, I forget that I have an addiction so I get back to my regular life and forget that I can’t have a drink, then I’m back to square one: homeless, losing my job, having no money, and burning bridges with my family. The alcoholism makes my life unmanageable, makes me depressed and not care about anything, not even living.”

During her last attempt at sobriety, Saché was working two jobs, had six months sober, but was so busy that she did not prioritize her recovery. She knew she was on the verge of relapse.
As the holiday season came around, Saché was struggling with loneliness and she began to walk to the bar, but her boyfriend found her and stopped her from fully relapsing. “I knew I needed to do more for my recovery or I wasn’t going to make it. When I had my interviews for Marian House, I knew this is where I needed to be. I needed the structure and the accountability. “ When Saché first walked through our doors, just a few weeks later, in January this year, she remembers: “I was greeted by the other residents great, big smiles. I felt like God sent me angels. I relaxed in my shoulders and in my gut. It was a sense of relief and I knew it was going to be a good atmosphere for me.
Everybody welcomed me and was so friendly. Now that I’ve been here for a while, I know, it’s hard NOT to grow here. When a new resident comes, I try to show them the same warmth and comfort that I felt when I first got here.” Since being at Marian House, Saché has appreciated the stability that she has here. She started therapy for the first time in her life and began to address her anxiety and addiction. She is learning about herself and is building healthy coping strategies to maintain her sobriety long-term. “I had been in survival mode for so long. I was scared. I felt like I was just existing and like I was near death.
But God gave me hope, that I’m not too far gone, I still had a little bit of hope left to keep fighting. You don’t always get a lot of chances to start over, but Marian House gave me a stable place where I didn’t have to think about a bed, having heat, a roof over my head, or my next shower. Now that I don’t have to worry about those things, I’m able to keep my recovery first! I have hope again.”
Today, Saché has been rebuilding her career. In the past two month she has completed a phlebotomy course, renewed her First Aid and CPR certification, renewed her Medical Assistant license and is about to start a course for IV Therapy. “I feel like I’m in control of my life again, and if there’s something I can’t control – I know how to step away and let that go. I’m not living my life based on fear anymore. I’m looking forward to my independence, I want it all: my career, a car, my own place, and in the future, I want to be a Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant.
My dream is to open a free mobile clinic that can go into the communities and give people the care they need, where they don’t have to worry about being judged or having to pay for it. My family is very proud and supportive of me and my process. They’re happy that they have back the Saché they remember.”
We’re so proud of Saché and have no doubt that she’ll be able to reach all that she has dreamed of!