Alicia’s Story

I would not be here today without the help of some amazing individuals and organizations like My Sister’s Place. Without them,
I wouldn’t have a story much worth telling.

In 2015, I joined the Learn to Earn internship program at My Sister’s Place Women’s Center. I was 26, living in a recovery program — essentially homeless. On welfare. Jobless. Uncertain about my future. I’m baffled as to how all these adjectives were part of my reality. How had this happened?   

I am blessed to have a loving and supportive family. My parents are well educated and we lived in a lovely home. I was a 3 varsity sport athlete and a straight “A” student in high school. I graduated summa cum laude and attended Salisbury University with the majority of my tuition paid for in academic scholarships. I finished three quarters of a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. 

Even though I had been given so much in life, I was my biggest issue. Many of my problems stemmed from me not being able to accept myself.  

In college, my life took an abrupt and total deviation. Alcohol was the magic elixir that allowed me to make friends. And then, I developed an eating disorder, allowing me to feel a real sense of release.

In 2010, after pleading from my worried parents, I entered Sheppard Pratt’s Center for Eating Disorders. For five years, I was enrolled in three different facilities. Those years were essentially a repeat of the same; drinking and eating binges every day.

In 2015, my awesome care team at Hopkins assisted me to enter Gaudenzia, a 28-day detox program. There, I met my dear friend Shar. I was so naïve. Shar made sure I registered for food stamps, learned to ride the bus, and, most importantly, enrolled in Learn to Earn. 

One night, low on food stamps and hungry, Shar suggested that we eat at My Sister’s Place. I was expecting another busy soup kitchen, with the typical buffet style arrangement and having to fight for a seat. I was pleasantly surprised when we were kindly greeted, seated, and even served our food which was amazing! It had been a long time since I had been in a restaurant, but the atmosphere was similar. It almost made me cry. 

It was so ironic that I had starved myself for years, and now, I was actually wanting for food. It’s amazing how being treated as a normal person makes you feel so wonderful. 

While we were at My Sister’s Place, we heard about the Learn to Earn Program. I applied to be a front desk intern, and that decision has made all the difference in the world. Because of My Sister’s Place and the Learn to Earn Program, I have gainful employment today. 

With referrals from MSPWC staff, I was able to get a job at Catholic Charities as a part-time Security Program Assistant for the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center. I loved this job, my co-workers and the residents. However, my name wasn’t on any deed, and I wasn’t really paying rent, so technically I, too, was still homeless. I needed to change that.

I sought and eventually got a full-time position at Johns Hopkins. I currently work as a Patient Access Specialist II. I also completed a 6-month multi-skills medical program through the Baltimore City Job Center to become a registered Certified Nursing Assistant and a Geriatric Nursing Assistant. I’m now able to go back to school to finish my degree.

I pay my own bills. I have my own apartment. I’ve purchased a reliable car. And, I’m finally living like a normal adult. Thankfully, I just recently celebrated two years of sobriety. In summation, I’m an addict. There’s no escaping that fact, but I am no longer suffering in silence. I have been blessed with people and programs that have offered help and rehabilitation and more than anything — validation. They have made me feel human again when I felt anything but human.   n

2018-11-26T17:42:49+00:00November 26th, 2018|
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