Through seasons of life, House of Grace helps women plant new seeds

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Breaking the cycle of addiction and domestic violence, Jennifer celebrates the role the House of Grace Recovery Program played in her transformation.

When Jennifer starts her new job as a dental assistant this week, it won’t be her first job, but it will be the first time the mother of three stands on her own.

Lost, addicted to drugs and nearing her breaking point, 39-year-old Jennifer needed a helping hand. She found that help at CityTeam Ministries’ House of Grace Recovery Program in San Jose, a faith-based, yearlong residential experience that supports women as they struggle to overcome drug addiction, domestic violence and homelessness.

As a young adult, Jennifer watched others in her family fall into a cycle of drug abuse and domestic violence. Without a support system at home, she moved out by the age of 14, mixed with the wrong crowd and headed down the path of addiction. When she became pregnant at 18, Jennifer vowed to be a responsible mom, but the seeds of her disease had already taken root.

“I wasn’t able to be the friend or mother I wanted to be,” said Jennifer, describing how she lost jobs, friends, partners and even her children during her 20-year drug-fueled descent. “(Drugs) took everything from me.”

Six months into her life at House of Grace, Jennifer is rediscovering who she is, renewing her relationship with God and building a community of sisters with other residents unlike any she had experienced.

“One of the most beautiful blessings of this program is that I get to look around and see the growth and restoration happening around me,” said Jennifer of the program’s 20 other participants. “It’s like being in a garden, and each time somebody new comes, it’s like a new plant that blossoms into these gorgeous new flowers.”

In addition to refreshing her technical skills in dental work through CityTeam’s Compass Academy, Jennifer noted that Bible study, life-skills classes and a network of counselors and peers are contributing to her recovery. For younger program residents, volunteer work in the office, at the onsite day-care center or at a food service center proves a valuable training opportunity that often leads to stronger prospects in the job market.

With residents of diverse backgrounds and ages – some as young as 18 – Jennifer said she feels like she is not only being helped, but is also able to help others find the love, support and encouragement that have been missing from her life.

“We come here broken, and moment by moment we’re restored,” she said. “We stay here long enough to not only see the change, but to have a hand in it.”

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