Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Melanie might call it a blessing – the phone call notifying her that a bed was available for her at CityTeam International’s House of Grace, a 12- to 14-month residential program in San Jose dedicated to helping women rebuild their lives after addiction, abuse or homelessness.
Although Melanie had struggled with opiate addiction since first experimenting with drugs at the age of 13, House of Grace has given her a new lease on life after a yearlong prison term. When she started the program in June, she was afraid to search for a job, fearing how employers might judge her history of substance abuse and incarceration.
With support from the team at House of Grace, Melanie landed a job five months later. When she delivered her first rent check to staff at the facility, she said she was not only elated, but also filled with self-confidence and integrity.
“I’ve had the opportunity to love myself for the first time at 22,” Melanie said.
The community of residents and staff support at House of Grace are life altering for Melanie and many other women who discover hope and a newfound opportunity to redefine their lives through the program.
“We see her as who she is today, not who she was yesterday,” said Honili Sema, director of women’s ministries at House of Grace.
In addition to safe housing for 24 women and eight children, the program provides continuing-education courses, life-skills classes, counseling and, most importantly, a supportive community that emphasizes holistic healing – physical, emotional and spiritual.
Unlike some recovery programs that last only 30 days, House of Grace gives women’s wounds time to heal. According to Sema, it costs $35 per person per day to run the nonprofit organization. Previous Town Crier Holiday Fund donations have enabled the agency to support participants with housing, food, clothing, furniture, recovery classes, medical and dental care, GED classes, career and money management programs and legal support.
“They want you to be healthy all around and give you support while you’re on that journey,” Melanie said.
When she graduates from House of Grace next summer, Melanie said she plans to attend seminary school to become a youth pastor.
She hopes to turn her past mistakes into something good.
“I always had things I wanted to do with my life but never had the lifestyle to do so,” she said. “I hope God is able to use me to bring light to the world.”
For an album of photos of Melanie and the House of Grace, click here.