“Even while I relapsed and was in jail, the light of the candle lit my path home. Today, I am the Events Manager for the newly reopened, renovated cafe. It’s a challenging position. I have an entirely new skill set and have learned to work on a unified team."

I had a rough start to life, with sexual abuse, and later drug use, beginning at an early age.  By the time I was seventeen, I dropped out of school, got married to a very abusive man, and was on a painful, dark path.

After being arrested, I asked the judge to put me in jail, because I knew if I didn’t stop the use and abuse, I would die. The judge recommended the Thistle Farms Residential Program, Magdalene. My case manager explained the program and that I would be taken care of for two years.

Although at that point in time, I couldn’t even stay clean an entire day, remarkably I did graduate Magdalene in 2002. I was able to move into my own place, buy a house, and adopt children. I had 10 years clean. I put all those things that looked like sobriety and success together but privately I was still struggling. When I relapsed in 2010, I became a victim of trafficking, lost custody of my child, was arrested, and spent over a year in jail.

I came back to the residential program, Magdalene, when I didn’t have anywhere else to go. At Thistle Farms, I had a place to stay and food and toiletries. With my felony charges, I couldn’t find a job, but they hired me at the Cafe. I started out on the register handling money and being the first face someone would see in the Cafe. I learned to provide high quality customer service and have relationships with my customers and the community. The Cafe team trusted me when I didn’t trust myself.  

Today, I have an entirely new skill set. I’m on a team. I get up and go to work even when I do not feel like it. Even when I disagree with someone, I can respect them and recognize that we are all working for one purpose. I’ve learned that whoever you are, you have human worth. I practice that same hospitality with everyone that I get to meet and host events for.

Now, I have custody of my son. That was a long four year process. I learned to never give up. I learned how to be okay and manage my sobriety even when things are not going my way.

I was around when we first made candles from spaghetti pots. To watch this program transform reminds me of my own transformation. Even while I relapsed and was in jail, the light of the candle lit my path home.

My favorite part about belonging to the community here at Thistle Farms is the support that’s available. My sisters for life are everything. It’s a safe work environment- without drugs, for healing. My job helps me have relationships with customers. I have cried and prayed with customers. They ask me about my family. They know me. I can be myself. There’s no mask I have to wear. They love me in spite of my past- even because of my past.

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Five Questions with Ebony

Five Questions with Ebony