Resident Spotlight – Phyllis

“Marian House taught me love, accountability  and new coping skills.”

Phyllis entered Marian House in March of 2020. After completing Marian House I successfully, she lived in Marian House II, and plans to move with her family at the time of publication. Phyllis, who was battling stage 3 colon cancer, bravely stands with us today to tell her story—now cancer-free.

How did you feel when you first entered Marian House?

I was really hopeful. God orchestrated this new direction for me, so I was excited, and expecting great things. It was my turn.

What led you to Marian House?
Over four years ago, I lost my husband of 40+ years. I used alcohol to cover-up what was really going on inside of me. It was my Band-aid, but I knew I needed some serious help with that and my mental health. I ended up losing my house to property taxes. I had to change my life. While I was in Nilsson House, the ladies at Marian House came to visit and told us about the requirements for the program—I knew Marian House was where I wanted to go. I was qualified and ready.

What has been the most helpful to you at Marian House?
The group meetings, all the support as far as how to cope with life without drinking, and how to acknowledge
anything that is unusual. Getting to know the other ladies, we were able to express how we really feel and even now
that I’m exiting Marian House II to live with family, I can recognize I’ve learned a lot from that, and I know how to
handle myself. I must say that I’m really proud of myself, especially with this colon cancer that hit me. Marian House
helped me connect to my health benefits to even figure out that I had stage 3 colon cancer. With the drinking and
everything, I wasn’t eating properly, and so stuff started to develop. Marian House was my support team, and the
doctors and the nurses I dealt with—they were awesome.

What is something you learned at Marian House that you’ll take with you wherever you go?
Marian House taught me love, accountability, and new coping skills, being mindful of what I do. I think there’s a lot
that’s with me. I love the women that are here, the women that I came up with. And I’m proud of myself.

When people support Marian House, what are they supporting?
Actually getting the right counseling and what you need to know how to cope. Marian House is very beneficial
especially to those who can’t afford healthcare, it helps us to better our life, going to school, and getting jobs. I’ve
been trying for years to get back to nursing, and in February of last year I did.

If you could talk to your younger self (5 or 10 years ago), what would you tell them?
Nothing is impossible. It could have been worse but you’ve been through plenty, so you got this. You can be stubborn, but if you have a desire to accomplish and overcome you, that’s the first part. Nobody is going to force you to do anything.

You Can Leave a Legacy

You truly can leave a legacy! It is not just for the rich, wealthy or famous. Leaving a planned gift is a way to leave a legacy and support the work you championed in your lifetime.

Planned gifts can be as simple as making an outright bequest or as complex as creating a charitable trust in your will. Naming Marian House as a beneficiary in your property, estate or on your insurance policy is a simple, special gift that leaves a legacy. You can even leave a percentage of a policy. Please call or have your personal financial representative call our Advancement Office at 410.467.4246 to talk about how you can leave a legacy of love. We are happy to help you devise a legacy plan.

Volunteer SPOTLIGHT – Rev. Joyce and CMAT

Rev. Joyce E. Jones has been a Marian House volunteer since spring 2022. With an impressive background, Rev. Joyce graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University and a master’s degree at Central Michigan University in Public Administration and Human Resources. Formerly employed by NSA (National Security Administration), she taught at Cryptologic Training School, Prince George’s Community College, and Bowie State University. She is a proud parent to two adult children and one grandson, Caleb.

As the Ministry Leader for the Christian mentoring and Transition Program (CMAT), she began meeting with Marian House staff last spring to explore a pilot partnership. CMAT recruits and trains Christian women to mentor incarcerated and recently released women, pointing them to Jesus Christ and referring them to resources to assist with their transition. Mentors participate from 30 different churches across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, where Rev. Joyce is ordained as an elder, is CMAT’s host community.

Over the past 12 years, CMAT has been mentoring women inside the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, and this year Rev. Joyce will celebrate 25 years of prison ministry. When COVID-19 forced CMAT to pivot to a more virtual presence, the seed of the idea to partner with community-based organizations working with the same population was born. Rev. Joyce was familiar with the work of Marian House because she had prayed for many women at MCIW, over the years, who longed to move on to what she came to understand as the “premier transitional program in the area.” They were blessed to have previous mentees successfully complete the Marian House program and saw first-hand the kind of growth they experienced and the independence they gained.

In the initial pilot with Marian House, Rev. Joyce and her fellow volunteers at CMAT provided 15 women with personally tailored welcome packages with supplies to help them settle into their new home here. Those same women were invited to participate in a monthly pen-pal relationship and receive regular newsletters from the group. In November, the women were invited to Beltsville to help celebrate the 12th Anniversary of CMAT. Zoom and in-person enrichment activities are planned for the spring, with discussion topics voted on by participants. The next topic is, “Taming the Tongue: The Power of Talking Right for a Productive Life.”

We’re grateful to have Rev. Joyce and CMAT as part of the Marian House family and look forward as the partnership continues to grow and serve more women in its second year.


Nancy is the first to say that she never really had a childhood.

As young as she can remember, she was the main person responsible for her family of seven despite being the middle sibling. When she wasn’t working to provide for them financially, she was acting as the head of household for other families. Even the leisure time and the few toys she had were shared with her siblings. While it was fulfilling to support her family, Nancy had no time to take care of herself.

As an adult, the endless flow of working to support others continued. One day she just couldn’t keep up, and Nancy “took a fall”— she could no longer afford rent. Facing homelessness and realizing her own limitations, she turned to drinking and drugs, quickly becoming “broken in all areas of life.”

Nancy’s first step to stopping her downward spiral was attending recovery meetings, where she first learned of Marian House. She was self-conscious about joining a transitional program in her early fifties, but the lack of an age limit encouraged her. When she was admitted as a resident, she saw immediate improvement, fueled by Marian House’s resources. “Everything I expected to be there, it was more,” she says now.

When she arrived, Nancy learned how to accomplish and enjoy tasks for herself that she had only done for others before. She learned how to properly get a job, manage her own finances, and dress appropriately for the workplace. The support and community Nancy received helped her gain the mental and physical strength to obtain independence. When she had a bout of illness early in her stay, “Marian House was there for me.” Group dinners in the Great Room made Nancy feel like she was, for the first time, in a community where people would do nice things for her and not expect anything back from her in return.

Nancy views Marian House as a place where, even with all the pressure from the outside world to take care of others, she could “get to know myself first.” Through therapy and Marian House’s emphasis on developing strong relationships, she went from a person who “couldn’t speak or hold conversations with others” to a strong self-advocate. She knew Marian House had rejuvenated her when, for the first time since she lost her home, she started baking cookies again. The skills for self-sufficiency Nancy learned in transitional housing made her secure in her finances, confident in her abilities, and proud of herself.

Nancy says, “Sometimes we think we need things at a certain point, but they come when the time is right.” After nearly a whole life spent taking care of others at her own neglect, Nancy can finally take care of herself. Marian House helped Nancy regain her independence. As she ends her time in transitional housing and begins the move to an independent apartment close to her job at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Nancy still feels that her recovery isn’t over—she’s just happy to feel her true self, and her inner child, blossom.


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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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!




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!