She's putting drugs, rape in the rearview mirror

Jennifer is a One Step Away vendor who recently attained housing. She’s using the income she earns to go back to school.

By Jennifer

By not giving up on myself, I was able to better my future.

On Sept. 26, 2012, I put myself into an inpatient treatment center due to my addiction to drugs. I knew death was the only thing left for me out there, living on the streets of Kensington, sleeping in abandoned houses and being held up at gunpoint, being jumped by teenage boys so badly they broke my nose and were kicking me in my head just for my purse (unbelievable, I thought), not to mention being raped out there on the streets, which caused me to have PTSD.

So I had enough, and knew a change had to be made in order for me to survive and get my life back. I went into a shelter and from there was placed into a recovery house with 12-14 other women. I was happy and blessed to just have a roof over my head and a bed to lay my head down at night. Although the beds had bed bugs, it wasn’t the streets and it was a place to make a stable start. I was very grateful to have that second chance and nothing was going to make me go back the wrong way. NOTHING!

In February of this year I started working for One Step Away. My boyfriend had started working for them, and he got me into working there, too, and I enjoyed it very much. It got me out of the recovery house more, and kept me busy. I felt like I was accomplishing something.

I began to write some poetry and send it in to the paper to feel like I was more a part of it, and over time my poems were published.

A lot of people pass me on a daily basis and I can feel the judgmental looks and sometimes hear the comments they make toward me, which aren’t very nice. But I don’t let that affect me because I know what I am working toward, and for.

People who don’t read One Step Away don’t know anything about us, and how much this job means to us and helps us. I am trying to go back to school next year and have filled out all my loan and grant applications so I am waiting to hear back. Also, I fill out applications for other places to work but haven’t been able to get a call back yet. But I won’t give up.

It has been just about a month since my boyfriend and I were finally able to rent our own room thanks to One Step Away! It was and still is the best feeling to have a place we call home and work hard to pay for it. Although it’s only a room, it’s our home and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of how far we have gotten through these hard times together. We don’t have to worry about theft or being bullied or people eating our food or bed bugs. Thank God they didn’t come with me — I washed and dried everything extra-long and hot!

Getting this far along has just made me see that I can do anything I set my mind on, and will make something of myself after school and be able to help others that are situations like mine. I just want to thank everyone who has ever bought a paper from me or any person wearing a One Step Away vest, because you truly are helping people better themselves. Without all of you we wouldn’t have a place to call home.

By supporting us, you give me hope and confidence of what the future has in store for me. Thank you all for giving me the strength to keep going each day. I pray for all of you every night; you may not realize it but you are a big part of our life and a big help.