When Gayle was a married woman with a husband and four children, she never imagined that someday she would become homeless. In fact, when her husband lost his job she took it in stride by simply going out to work herself. Gayle had a successful career. Along the way, Gayle drank to relax at the end of the day. She now tells a grim story of how alcohol abuse led to homelessness later in her life.
Within a very short period of time, Gayle suffered many losses. She lost her husband, which led to a period of intense depression. Then her sister died, leaving Gayle as the last surviving member of her family. Finally, she was cheated by a con man who had victimized many women. At that point Gayle filed for bankruptcy. She was emotionally and financially bankrupt. She couldn’t see how life could ever be tolerable again.
Alcohol had always been part of life but now the amount she drank each day increased by leaps and bounds. “I was drinking all the time,” admits Gayle. After a while, this consumption of great amounts of alcohol led to troubles with the law. Gayle got multiple DUI’s. She no longer had the money or ability to keep her own housing, so she stayed with whatever friend would take her. Eventually, she began to see that her drinking was out of control. She knew she needed treatment.
“I knew I needed a change because all I wanted to do was die.” Gayle completed a ninety-day residential treatment program where she learned about how addiction works and what she could do to overcome it. She was hungry to have a life of sanity and sobriety. She wanted to leave behind her shameful past. At the end of her time in treatment, however, Gayle began to realize that she was about to be released into the world when she had no money, no job, and no where to go. Then she heard about the Lake County Haven. “I knew that I could make a good, clean life there.” Gayle knew that she needed resources and safety to maintain her sobriety and that the Lake County Haven would be the perfect place for her.
“My experience at the Haven was excellent,” beams Gayle. I was required to go to an aftercare program to deal with the new issues of being sober. I had to attend many AA meetings where I met new friends and got a sponsor. I got a job and actually had savings before I knew it.” With the assistance of the case managers, Gayle learned to live on a budget, save money, build a support system, and live a responsible life. Gayle enjoyed living at The Haven because the counselors were helpful and it felt like home. “I was safe, secure and happy about myself. I knew that I was doing everything possible to be who I could be.”
After graduating from the shelter program, Gayle got an apartment a few blocks from The Haven so that she could stay in touch. She was able to find roommates who split living expenses with her. Her job, which she found while living at The Haven, is nearby. Gayle also serves as an overnight supervisor at The Haven’s shelter where she provides a listening ear and a helping hand to those for whom she is now a role model.
When women from the Lake County Haven go to AA meetings in the community, Gayle takes them under her wing. “I tell them that they have a chance to start all over again at the Haven, like I did. They can get away from the people, places and things that were a part of their addiction. The Haven will teach them skills to live their lives. For the people who really want it, the Haven is a wonderful place.”
Gayle credits her experiences at the Lake County Haven for helping her to “rejoin the human race.” She speaks of the fact that her children and grandchildren are very proud of her and that her life is very good now. “Everyone at the Haven is great. I’m very appreciative of all the help they have given me.” ♥