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Lolita Is Grateful for Her Year Of Firsts

by Erica Rivero

I want people to know that every time they buy a product, it brings a women off the streets, and it helps women who have already found their way home, to stay in their sanctuary. Buying one candle can be one woman’s stipend for the week or help pay a medical bill...I want to give back to the people who have given me everything. I love myself. I mean I really LOVE myself again.  

Lolita, a 2017 graduate of the Magdalene residential program of Thistle Farms, reflects on how far she has come in her recovery, what she has to be thankful for this season, and how this community has saved her life. 

"I came into the Magdalene, residential program of Thistle Farms in November 2014 with 45 days clean and a half full suitcase. The Lolita that came into the program had anxiety, was untrusting, was angry. I was 56 years old. I was broken, so broken. I felt unloved. Even though looking back, I know people loved me. After 90 days, I started to feel that people cared about me. They cared about my well being. 

Decades of drug use taught me that in order to receive something, you had to give something in return. But here at Thistle Farms, they give everything unconditionally, without ever expecting anything in return. It gave me hope, peace, and restoration in my own life. At my age, you might think that what you have been doing is what you will do for the rest of your life. That's not the case for me. I'm not addicted anymore or set in my old ways. I don’t feel like I’m 60. I don’t look like I’m 60. I’m more vibrant now! My head is clear! It all goes back to the program. I give myself credit for staying sober this time, but I have to give the most credit to Magdalene and Thistle Farms.

I started working for the Thistle Farms in August of 2015. It made me realize I was a productive citizen again. I was getting my life back. Before I got into addiction at 30 years old, I had a job, a home, a family, and a car. I lost all of that in over 25 years of addiction. I have so much to be thankful for. I have to thank God for giving me another chance and hearing my plea. I am so full of grace and mercy today. I cannot even explain it. My life is so good now. I walked into Magdalene with a suitcase half full of clothes. That first Christmas I got new socks and clothes and have been more and more grateful everyday since.

I love coming to work. I drive my own car for the first time since 1988. I have my own apartment now. I hadn’t had my children in my life. I hadn’t had a bank account. And now I have all that back, and I have a savings account, even! 

I want to give back to the people who have given me everything. I love myself. I mean I really LOVE myself again. I owe everything to this program." 

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