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Meet Christina

When she started her recovery journey through the Gavin Foundation, Christina says she could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. At this point in her life, her substance use disorder (SUD) had taken everything from her: a job, a home, and her family. “It was very hard, very difficult, and ATR was exactly what I needed to get ahead in life,” she reflects. Today, she can look back at all the work she put into her recovery, the life she has created outside of addiction, and say, “I did that.” Today, Christina can dream of the future and help others find the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The beginning of Christina’s story starts with words like, “a mess” and “hectic,” and she sat in “hopelessness.” After going through program after program, she asked herself, “’Here I am again. What am I going to do?’ I [started] to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Emotion and reflection ripple across her face as she says, “After doing this so many times . . . is this going to be the last time I have to go through this pain again?” It was the support of Eileen’s House through the Gavin Foundation that really made the difference. A few months after she began, Christina was able to enroll in ATR and begin working with ATR Care Coordinator Stephen Steele. “He made sure that I got everything I needed. He’s gone out of his way for me many a time,” Christina shares with a smile.

Once enrolled in the ATR Paths to Empowerment (P2E) job readiness program, Christina started to uncover who she was and who she wanted to become. “[P2E] started giving me that motivation that I needed and that guidance,” she says. Christina shares that other programs often have options available to help individuals in recovery build life skills, but none went as far as ATR in giving participants the option to enroll in sponsored job training through ATR Career Services. She enrolled in the Home Builders Institute (HBI) carpentry program, setting a goal for herself to join the carpenters’ union when she graduated. Her instructor, Greg “Gray” Wilder, says, “I saw her [blossom] in the class. She picked her head up, she started to become assertive; the confidence came back.”

Each stage of Christina’s success is bookmarked with people surrounding and supporting her: P2E Instructor Natasha, HBI Instructor Gray, and ATR Care Coordinator Stephen, along with other Gavin Foundation staff who connected her to resources. With this community behind her, Christina says, “It makes me overwhelmed with gratitude that there are people who really care about us and want to see us succeed, [who] tell us that we’re worth more than we thought we were.” Through the years of trying different recovery programs, she had attended peer support meetings, but in this community of support, she says it gave her, “a sense of belonging,” where she was celebrated every step of the way.

With the help of her ATR Coordinator, Christina enrolled in the State Opioid Response (SOR) Rapid Rehousing (RRH) program, which provides housing supports for individuals in recovery, and lived in a sober house for a few months. “It was like a breath of fresh air getting out in the world by myself, having my own place again,” she shares. “I struggled with homelessness for over 10 years . . . I can’t even find the words for the happiness, the peace of mind, the stability that it gave me.” After graduating from HBI job training, Christina eagerly submitted her application to the carpenters’ union. Six months later, she got her acceptance letter.

Today, Christina has stable housing, a career that she loves and can build on (no pun intended), and she has restored her family. “That was my most important thing, was getting my children back and my family back, and I have that. Now, I have a career and my life is pretty good.” But she is not stopping there. She was recently asked to speak to the women at Eileen’s House, and says, “My life is never too busy to find that time to give back.” Christina dreams of helping other single mothers through recovery, helping them continue their education and access housing. With a laugh, she says her dream also includes going on vacations, building success in real estate, and getting rich. Christina once dreamed of having a normal day-to-day life with her family. Now she has more dreams and is looking forward to what comes next.