Angie's Long Road Home
Angie has been a long-term Hearth Connection participant in Northeast Minnesota. When she entered the program in 2007, she was at the lowest point of her life: homeless, struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and long alienated from her family.
Angie's story began many years ago. Her family was separated and she was placed in foster care at a very young age. Angie suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of her foster parents: physical, sexual, emotional abuse and even starvation. She began drinking in the 4th grade and by middle school had moved on to using drugs to mask the inner anguish she felt.
Over the years, she lost contact with her biological family, and after aging out of the program, Angie was left alone with no support network to help her find her way. Though she was finally free from the years of abuse at the hands of her foster families, without the support of others she had to do whatever she could to survive. This often included trading sex for food or a place to stay. She continued to use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with and dull the reality of her day-to-day struggle for survival. Eventually, the decisions she made to survive led to multiple arrests, jail time and a felony record, thus beginning her long cycle of homelessness.
After several years of living in the shadows of society, Angie found and reached out to her family, but to due to her continued substance use and criminal record, they rejected her. This was the lowest point in Angie's life. She was homeless, alone, and seriously contemplating taking her own life. It was at this point that the shelter she was staying at referred her to a new program developed by Hearth Connection for those like Angie who had experienced many years of homelessness. Looking back, Angie says this was the pivotal moment in her life when even though she was at her lowest, she felt something was about to change for the better. She now knows that what she felt then was hope for the first time in her life.
The next ten years would be filled with ups and downs, meeting goals and backsliding into old behaviors; making good decisions, and then bad ones. But one thing remained constant, the support she had from her case manager Becky as she worked to rebuild her life. Angie came to know, without a doubt, that the support she needed would be there as long as necessary.
Last summer, after a few years of working on reconnecting with her biological family, and having achieved a solid foundation of stability, Angie made the decision to move to Pine City to be near her family and continue building the close relationships she has longed for her entire life. Even though she has moved, Hearth Connection's program flexibility and philosophy of "sticky services" enables her to still remain a participant, for as long as she needs the support. For Angie, knowing that Becky is there if she needs her, brings peace of mind, and keeps Angie focused on long-term goals.
This summer, Angie's nephew was honored by their community for retiring from the military having served 20+ years in the Army. Her nephew asked Angie to be the MC for this event. Words cannot describe what this meant to her. Only five years ago she was still alienated from her family, and now, to be asked to represent the family in this way was beyond what she could have ever imagined. Angie says that this is what she had hoped for that day she first met Becky and learned of Hearth Connection's programming. She humbly acknowledges that she wouldn't have been on that stage with her nephew without the assistance and support she received from Becky and Hearth Connection and for that she will be forever thankful.