Stories of Transformation: Rita

“I didn’t want to live anymore,” says Rita. “I would cry out to God ‘Why? Why do you take people every day who have responsibilities, who have kids and families who depend on them? Why do you take them and not me?’”

In 2005, Rita was 37 years old. She had been married for 14 years, had three beautiful children and owned a nice house in Arrowhead. She ran a successful child care business with a staff of 20 employees and every Sunday you could find Rita and her family attending service at Christ’s Church of the Valley.

To the outside observer, it seemed like she had it all figured out.

But inside, Rita was dying.

The previous year, she discovered her husband had had an affair. For months she held the pain inside, burying it with work and alcohol. But when a minor surgery also gave her access to prescription pain pills, the tight weave of Rita’s life began to unravel.

“I was a mess,” admits Rita. “I was not functional, my life was chaos. I went from having… what I thought was everything, everything I needed to complete my life, everything I ever wanted, to living in a box on the street.”

I went from having...

Rita had a nervous breakdown. Her husband moved out with the kids, she lost her business and her home, and tried to commit suicide. The attempt landed her in a mental institution for a month. When she left, Rita turned to drugs for help.

“I didn’t care anymore,” Rita says. “I let everything go. Over the next 10 years, I was in and out of jail and prison for unpaid child support. I spent the last three with a dope dealer who was abusive. He would shave off my hair, pistol whip me, sometimes beat me to within an inch of my life. But I didn’t leave because, deep down, that’s what I thought I deserved.”

In between trips to prison, Rita was sent to recovery program after recovery program.

She tells us, “I would go into recovery expecting that once I was sober, all the things that I had lost; my family, my home, my life, would come back. When it didn’t happen I would use that as an excuse to drink and soon I was right back where I started.”

Rita in the kitchen

Then Rita found real hope when the judge sent her to the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center.

“None of the other programs had a spiritual aspect. Here I discovered that without God in my life, there was no way I was going to change… it was an incomplete recovery. Now for the first time in so long, I want to live. I wake up every morning and thank God for another beautiful day,” says Rita with a smile.

“This place gave me all the love and support I needed when I needed it most. It saved me,” says Rita. “I had given up on life, but this place gave me hope… it gave me – me. And I’m going to pass that on. If I’m flipping cheeseburgers for the rest of my life, that’s ok, because every spare moment I have I’m going to give back and I’m going to do His work. If I can touch one person the way this place touched me, it will all be worth it.”

Thanks to the grace of God, the work of our counselors and staff and the support of friends like you, Rita is no longer wishing for death. Instead she’s sober, living a redeemed life, and looking forward to helping others find that same hope. Rita was among our first Food Service Management Course graduates and was recently hired at America’s Taco Shop where she was promoted to the general manager position.

See Rita’s testimony in our new Mission video by clicking here.