Rosa: from Gangs to Grace
Rosa is a young woman with a big past, one filled with gangs, violence, crime and addiction. But today she has a big future. Thanks to being at House of Hope and having worked through each of its programs, she is on a very different path than when she first came to the House in June 2018.
When she was four, Rosa’s family emigrated from Mexico to California. Her father was abusive and very strict – so strict that Rosa was always careful to be a good student, watch her weight, and behave herself. As the domestic violence increased, the court ordered her father to leave.
Worried about her weight, Rosa stole money to buy diet pills and began using crystal meth. She graduated from high school a top student and was offered a scholarship. However, the merry-go-round with drugs and addiction had already begun.
By age 20, she was pregnant and addicted. She tried to stay sober for the baby, but finally gave custody to her mother because she could not stop using. To support her habit, she became a gang member, broke into cars, homes and drug warehouses, stealing whatever she could. She was constantly buying, selling and using drugs.
During this period, a close friend was shot, but even that didn’t slow her down. Trading sex for drugs, she became pregnant again. She was alone, vulnerable, and filled with rage and self-pity. Social workers took away her baby and even though she kept telling herself, “I’m not going to keep doing this,” her crime and addiction cycle escalated. After a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle that ended in a bad accident, Rosa was sentenced to jail for three weeks. While there, she heard women saying they wanted to get into recovery and that there was a good program at a place called House of Hope. Her lawyer, who had had experience with the House, also recommended it.
Not long after, Rosa arrived at the House. She saw that the women were happy and wondered why they wanted this program so much, so she just listened. She saw there was always good food and coffee, and she loved the sense of order and security the program gave her.
There had been some structure in her childhood with her father’s stringent rules, but the structure at House of Hope was different; it provided her with tools and hope. She promised herself she would stay one year. She learned to trust others. A class on grieving helped her deal with the losses of her children as well as the lost opportunities in her past. As she moved through Primary, Recovery Bridge Housing, Sober Living and most recently Independent Living, she gained more freedom and took on more responsibility.
Today she is a student in computer science and engineering at Harbor College and works full-time. Rosa says, “As you take on more responsibilities, you become who you are.” She hopes to go to Berkeley once she finishes community college. But she must first resolve her pending legal issues for past criminal actions. Nonetheless, Rosa maintains a positive outlook. Rosa knows that what she has learned at the House will sustain her and give her the strength she needs to succeed. She says, “I learned how to do everything at House of Hope!”