“It sounds crazy, but this place saved my life.”
Over a span of three short years, Shari went from sleeping on the streets of Oakland to starting a career in account management at a respected bank in San Jose. Living in Oakland as a heroin, alcohol, and crack cocaine addict, she knew she had issues with substance abuse but did not have the ability to pay for treatment. But her breaking point came when she was almost choked to death after getting caught in the midst of a violent crime.
Determined to make a change, Shari came to Pathway Society right off the streets of Oakland. She trusted Pathway Society to guide her through her issues, and says it was a place where she was able to put her mind together. She utilized everything the program offered to the fullest. The structured recovery program at Pathway Society taught her about responsibility, which provided the groundwork for teaching her how to show up for her own life.
Shari credits her success to the Pathway Society staff and their selfless dedication to their work. One-on-one counseling sessions with her counselor, Beth, helped Shari process her issues with addiction and what she had gone through living on the streets. Shari learned that, for her, using was a symptom of self-esteem issues that stemmed from her childhood. Getting to the core of her issues with addiction gave Shari a clear idea of what she needed to change, and that insight has stayed with her in her new life.
The life Shari lives now exceeds all expectations that she had for herself. She has an excellent job at a respected bank that pays well and gives great benefits. She reconnected with her mother and is able to be a good example for her daughter. Now, she cares about herself, and has self-respect, things that were impossible to achieve in her previous drug induced world. Today, Shari helps people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Because she has lived on the same streets and slept in the same parks as many of the people who come to Pathway Society, clients are able to relate to her on a persona level. She regularly attends narcotics anonymous conventions, and at Pathway Society helps with evening rounds. When working at Pathway Society she’s friendly but firm; she knows what kind of work it takes to forge a successful path to recovery.
When asked what advice she would give women who want help but feel hopeless, she said she would insist that it’s possible to have a new begging, no matter how far down you’ve gone: “The importance is that it’s you who has to want it, you have to do the hard work, you have to let go of old ideas and listen to a new way of thinking. If you do that, it works. Willingness is key and you have to be open-minded. If you don’t apply what you learn, it doesn’t work. But if you do, it’s the foundation for a new life.”