As a child, Jewel experienced family trauma and abandonment. Life was hard at home and as a teenager, she looked to escape any way she could.
Jewel got married at age 17, left home with her new husband, and had her first child. But her marriage didn’t work out as she hoped. Her husband struggled with drug addiction, and Jewel suffered through years of verbal and physical abuse.
“Over time I lost all sense of self-respect and self-confidence. Lonely, hopeless, and desperate, I started using drugs too.”
The need to use drugs took over her entire life in ways she could have never imagined. She had two more children but was unable to be the mother she had hoped. Even after she left her husband, she found herself repeating the same patterns – in and out of abusive relationships, jail, and addiction.
“By the end, I was so sick and so numb that I couldn’t remember a life without drugs, nor could I imagine a healthy or happy future for myself.”
Jewel tried various programs in the city, but every time she got out, she would go right back to the familiar cycle. Finally, one night in jail, she decided she needed to do something truly different. She had been through enough programs to know that she needed something more intensive.
Her social worker suggested that Jewel come to N Street Village’s recovery program, and in her desperation for healing, she was willing to try.
“If it weren’t for N Street Village, I do not believe that I would have made it through to a new beginning. I am not sure that I’d even be alive.”
Although it was tough, Jewel graduated from the Village’s recovery program and, for the first time, felt like she had the tools and resources to maintain her sobriety. After graduation, she was a caregiver for various family members over the next ten years until another abusive situation left her homeless again.
Jewel came back to the place she knew she could count on for hope, healing, and support. She picked up where she left off – attending classes, working with staff and rebuilding her life.
Today, Jewel has her own apartment with the Village’s permanent supportive housing program. Through the MARJ & MAK Vocational Center, Jewel started a new job through a Village partnership with WeWork and UPIC Health, a job she loves and is proud to have. Jewel is now a peer mentor at the Village, leading a recovery support group for other clients at the Village. She also shared her story with The Washington Post this winter, hoping it may just inspire someone else to get the help they need.
“Today, for the first time in 62 years, I have permanent housing. I have my own space where I am learning to love myself, learning to say no, and learning that my story can help encourage other women going through some of the same experiences.”