My mom abandoned me and my three other siblings when I was less than 2 months old. We were found by the landlord, coming to collect rent, in a cardboard box, crying for food, and dying of malnutrition. Our mom was in New York by this time, on drugs.

My siblings and I were taken and put in foster homes, but I only got placed in the same home with my brother. Our foster parents were awful. Our foster mother often locked us in the basement without dinner and used the money from the state to spoil the kid they had adopted. Our foster father would molest me.

Before I was a teenager, my brother and I were found by our real dad. He arranged a day with us, gifted us each a watch, told us he loved us, and killed himself later that night.

At 12 years old, our real mom showed up to relinquish custody of me and my siblings. Our foster mother refused to adopt us because she said we’d end up just like our mother.

I started to seek comfort from guys and was raped at 13. The police blamed me for what happened, so I stopped going to the police for any help.

At 16, I was emancipated, living in a group home, with a baby boy of my own. I received no education and the group home said I graduated, but there’s no documentation. I was tricked out of custody of my son by the state and up and went to LA, where my mom lived. At first it was a happy reunion, but she ended up kicking me out on the streets. At that age, because of California labor laws, I couldn’t find a job and ended up stripping.

In 1991, I came to Chicago. I hadn’t dealt with my abandonment issues and started doing drugs. I got in trouble with the law and found myself in jail.

In June 2016, I met my husband and got clean. Today, we live together near Uptown and I have been working in home health for 7 years.

I heard about Sarah’s Circle 25 years ago. I heard you go there, sit and get fed. They took me to drug treatment, fed me, and clothed me. I didn’t commit to getting off drugs for a long time. I just needed to make it through the day then. I was homeless, I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from. I wasn’t ready to deal with reality.

The support women get at Sarah’s Circle is different for everyone. I needed Sarah’s Circle for a hot meal, to have a place to recover, to receive the nourishment I needed to survive another day. Sometimes, that’s just what you need.

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