"I always felt, how could there be a God if He let this happen to me and my sisters? I harbored a lot of anger. But I never realized how much all those things that happened as a child impacted my choices."
It was when Andrea stepped out on her own that the problems began. She found a good job; she bought a nice car and rented a place of her own. But even as she began to gather the trappings of a normal life, she knew deep inside that something was wrong. Despite her success, she was empty... hollow, and she didn't know why. Not knowing what to do with this feeling, she started to fill the void with alcohol.
It was a decision that almost cost Andrea her life.
It wasn't long before bottles started stacking up. Andrea's alcoholism was rapidly consuming the success she had managed to achieve-and it scared her.
"I called my mom and told her what I had been doing - that I had lost both of my jobs, my rent check was gone and I couldn't stop drinking. I didn't know what to do. She got really stressed out."
Andrea's family was supportive at first, but the cycle kept repeating. The requests for financial help, the overdose scares, detoxing on her sister's couch in full view of her school-age nieces, occurred with increasing regularity. Soon, family members began to tell her to stay away, that her decisions were damaging the family.
"My sister said, 'You're going to kill our mom.' That got me thinking. I'm the problem, so if I get of that, it'll hurt, but only for a little bit. I can't hurt anyone if I'm dead."
Thankfully, she was unsuccessful. Paramedics saved Andrea's life. But while all of this was going on, God was working behind the scenes. A year earlier, her dad Jorge, who had been homeless and an alcoholic himself, had enrolled in our Men's Recovery program.
"The Mission saved his life. And he told me, 'Go to the Mission, they have a women's center [Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center] there.' So I said I'd give it 30 days. The joke around here is that after day 15, my timer broke. I've been here 15 months now."
It was a decision that not only saved her life, it transformed it.
"There's so much love being poured in here [The Changing Lives Center] that you can feel it. I've learned that I'm not alone and that I'm not a burden. Talking about my past and presenting it in front of the other women made me realize that I'm not the only one who goes through this or has these thoughts."
Working with our staff, she's also discovered the missing piece that was always meant to fill the hole in her life.
"I actually understand the Bible for the first time in my life and I have a close connection to God. I know that everything is going to be okay because He has a plan for me. It's given me the courage to do something hard."
Your support not only helped save Andrea, you helped give her the drive to reinvent herself and follow a dream she's had since she was little.
"They are very big here on, instead of just getting a job, getting a career. I've wanted to be an EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] for a long time, but I never had the courage. I was broken, taken advantage of, I was weak.
"But Yvette [Program Assistant in our Job Attainment program] encouraged me and helped me get the scholarships I needed. Now I've made it - I'm an EMT as of May 8th! This place and Yvette helped me get there."
Not only is Andrea sober, a recovery graduate, and a graduate of the EMT program, she's looking forward to continuing her education to become a paramedic.
Like so many who walk through our doors, Andrea was meant for more. Today she's walking that path with God by her side.
From being saved to saving others, Andrea has come full circle - and she has you to thank for it.