Three years ago, Debra decided she wanted to end years of homelessness and drug addiction for good.

“I was off and on the streets for a long time,” says Debra.  “I was using drugs and being homeless and being in places I didn’t want to be.”  She avoided family because they confronted her about the drugs, and avoided shelters, which she found challenging and unpleasant.  “I never accomplished anything.”

The birth of Debra’s great-grandchild changed that.  “I made up my mind that I did not want her to know me as the crack-addict great-grandma, and I promised myself that I would change my life.”

The new addition to the family also coincided with a dangerous low in Debra’s drug use and depression.  She had attempted suicide and was sent to the psychiatric unit of a hospital.  There, she made her plan: enter rehab, then stay a year in transitional recovery housing, then enter more independent, affordable housing.

“I’ve followed my plan to a T,” says Debra, who has been clean for almost three years.  After a year in a transitional residence for women in recovery, Debra came to live at Bethesda Spruce, a house for 16 women.  

Bethesda Project has met her need for a stable and supportive housing environment.  When Debra faced painful medical issues and underwent major surgery, she could depend on staff.  “They have been outstanding… They carried my medicine to my room when it was too painful to walk, and visited me in the hospital.  I could talk to them on days when I was depressed.”

The other women supported her, too: “It’s like a sisterhood here.” 

Now at Bethesda Spruce for two years, Debra has one more year, according to her plan, before she’s ready to move out on her own.  Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild are thrilled about the progress she’s made.  “Everybody’s happy, everybody’s glad,” says Debra.