Finding hope through Providence Network, Mile High United Way and The Salvation Army
This article was formerly published by the Denver Gazette in November 2013, as part of the Mile High United Way series of articles for the local newspaper surrounding Denver, Colorado.
Miracles are not meant to be forgotten, and for Karla Chance, 48, one miracle she will never forget was the night she found hope.
While growing up in Cortez, Colorado, Karla started smoking marijuana at 15 years old, partly to dissipate the negative environment she grew up in. She was desperate for love until she was pregnant at the same age, and instead of the love she yearned for, she found an abusive relationship that ended quickly within a couple of years. Another relationship began soon after and Karla was married by 18 years old. She was introduced to methamphetamines and heroin by her husband, and the marriage ended by the time she was 22 years old. However, the drug habit lingered for twenty years.
“I had a job, but was using meth on the side, and smoking pot, and dope, and eventually lost that job,” said Karla.
Karla struggled with marijuana use throughout her life, and when she re-married at the age of 37 years old, she still used methamphetamines and suffered from alcohol abuse worse than ever before. Her second marriage ended in divorce two years later and Karla was pregnant with her second child. Her depression deepened and so did her substance abuse. There were days when she was so high on dope and drunk from alcohol until she found herself walking one night by herself searching for answers to escape from her life.
On that sorrowful night, Karla realized she lost her self-sufficiency and had lost everything else in her life. She was almost homeless with no savings account to help her. Suddenly she looked up towards a neighborhood church and saw a cross. Karla cried profusely and became weak to her knees as she extended her arms open wide and cried, “God, help me,” said Karla.
She received a message from her prayers, and it was, “I will show you the way to get to recovery.” She was willing to change her life, and she enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program — Cortez Addiction and Recovery Services (CARS), within weeks after the night she found faith and hope. From CARS, she was referred to the Cortez Mental Health and was told that she needed to pay $40 for the cost of the sliding scaled services. She couldn’t pay for the services because she had nothing to pay the services with. Karla immediately went to the Salvation Army to ask for help and they were able to provide for her needs. The Cortez Salvation Army also gave Karla a one way bus fare to the Denver’s Salvation Army for the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) Program.
“The secret is the Lord, I didn’t have the Lord in my life,” said Karla. “But the Salvation Army saved my life. Paul and Rhonda Bowan, both colonels with the Denver Salvation Army, gave me a spiritual journal. They started to walk with me at the Salvation Army.”
Karla started Denver ARC and learned about “sober living,” a concept she had never heard of. By this time, Karla has been on drugs for nearly 30 years of her life.
Through Denver ARC, Karla connected with Samantha Peel, a counselor who referred her to one of Mile High United Way’s Partner, Providence Network. Samantha helped Karla to leave the Salvation Army program to transition into Providence Networks’ recovery program. With Providence Network, Karla applied to ATR — Access to Recovery, a program with Providence Network.
Providence Network provides a continuum of care that begins with the First Step program at Providence House, a home for single men and women, or Joy House, a home for women and children overcoming domestic violence. Each transitional program requires a two years live-in commitment which includes individual and group counseling, life skills development, addictions recovery, case management, spiritual nurturing, as well as access to job training, legal and other important self-sufficiency resources.
“We believe our primary resource is our live-in staff who follow a calling to live life alongside those we serve. They offer unconditional love, acceptance, respect, friendship and the structure, support and accountability they need to overcome their challenges and develop a healthy life for themselves and their family,” said Derek Kuykendall, Executive Director of Providence Network.
Karla not only learned how to live a sober life, but she also gained self-esteem and confidence in herself. She had lost most of her teeth from methamphetamine use, but through another Mile High United Way partner, Stout St. Clinic, Karla was given the dental work necessary to restore her teeth.
“I can smile now, and this has helped me, and this led to a new job at Bud’s Warehouse,” said Karla. Karla also remained faithful in her walk with Christ and learned how to serve others, and love herself while remaining accountable for her life. Some critical characters Karla showed during her walk were her perseverance and her inclination to learn and accept constructive criticism. Karla became an extrovert and is enthusiastic about recovery, her faith, and another recent development, education.
Karla will sign up for an assessment test in general office skills with Bayaud Enterprise, through its General Office Skills Training (GOST) program. Bayaud Enterprise partners with Mile High United Way as part of the adult self-sufficiency initiative that both organizations shares with each other. Karla will also work towards Vocational Rehab to be approved for more education classes, to become more marketable for opportunities in the future.
Being accountable for her life did not come easily, but through the help of her ‘accountability partners,’ Dana Jones and Lynda Collins, Karla chose responsibility instead of relapsing back into her old habits. “I can’t lie to myself anymore, because if you’re not accountable, then you’re not working with the program,” said Karla.
Karla was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C because as a result of her drug use, but she found out early enough to seek treatment to be cured of the disease.
“I want people to be more aware of the repercussions of drug use,” said Karla.
Out of the many nights during her struggle, Karla described the night she saw the cross as her ‘miraculous moment’ and never looked back since then. “That was my revelation,” said Karla.
Now, Karla is described as a “completely different person” and “a positive “light” in the community, as described by Karen Huston, Deputy Director of Providence House. “Karla has celebrated two years of sobriety, which is a tremendous accomplishment and testimony to the strength she has gained through her emotional and spiritual growth.”
Throughout Karla’s life, Mile High United Way has supported Karla through her walk and she was gracious for Mile High United Way. She was surprised about its partnerships with Providence Network, Stout St. Clinic and Bayaud Enterprise.
“Praise the Lord for Mile High United Way, we are blessed. They saved my life and saved a lot of people’s life. Once I get clean and sober, I would like to pay it forward. I ‘d like to stay non-profit,” said Karla.
Karla is in progress to continue her growth with another Providence Network substance-free Next Step property, Victory House, to be among peers and mentors who will be there to lend an ear and a hug and celebrate Karla’s accomplishments.
“If you were to ask Karla, probably one of her greatest joys through all of this is that she has reconnected with one of her sons, Charles, and they are corresponding regularly” said Jennifer Sheedy, House Director of Providence House.