Stephanie on Having Faith

It took getting arrested at a federal level for Stephanie to get into a recovery center for treatment of her addiction.  She was put in Integrity house while she was on bail waiting for her sentence- she was supposed to spend 12 years in federal prison. While there everybody told her to “have faith, everything will be okay.”  Five months into her time at Integrity house her lawyer told her about a federal opportunity program that allows her to stay out of federal prison if she completes the program.

She has been in Integrity house for 21 months. She is pursuing her career- she used to be a board certified nurse and now she is in a parallel program for nurses with addition. She goes every Monday and it will allow her to get her nursing license back, hopefully in December or January. She credits Integrity house with instilling a drive for success and she wants to take her nursing to another level- she’s visited the community college and they were very supportive of her and Integrity house.

Stephanie emphasizes that Integrity house is home and that the people there are family for her and provided a community for recovery.

Sarah on Getting Resources and Community

Sarah shares that before she started she didn’t think she needed help for her addiction. By the time she was at the depth of her addiction, Medicaid was her only option due to the poverty caused by her addiction. All the places she called didn’t accept Medicaid, and she wasn’t able to save enough money to both take care of her immediate needs and pay for treatment.

She notes that drug court helped her get into a program- without drug court she would wait months to get into a program that she couldn’t pay for. She shows how only having Medicaid limits your options, as it generally funds outpatient. She says that outpatient wasn’t what she needed because the “drugs were just a symptom,” what also really needed help was her attitudes and behaviors.

She explains how a therapeutic community works to break down bad behaviors and build new good ones. They all work together in groups and as a community to call out bad behaviors and support each other in recovery. She emphasizes how the drugs aren’t the only issue at work, but also the ability to talk through life and behavior.

She explains conflict group in articular, where they discuss issues among each other and learn how to work it out in a constructive way, rather than through drugs, lashing out, or getting arrested. She says that she “needed that little kick to be able to say that this is what I’m doing with my life and my attitudes that wasn’t okay.”

April’s Story and Struggle

April shares part of her story of homelessness and unemployment with children. In 2014 she was arrested on drug charges and spent about 2.5 weeks in the county jail. During that time she didn’t know where her daughter was or if she was safe. She was lucky enough to get treatment court, and after treatment count she was released into a world where she was homeless and had nowhere to go.

She went to St. Anthony’s shelter and was there for 3-7 days (as the stay limit at St. Anthony’s is a week). She was pregnant with her son and had to sleep under a bridge in Scranton for roughly three days before St. Anthony’s shelter heard what was going on and let her back in. After that she went  to the Manor via St. Joseph’s center for five months, after which she went to their Mother-Infant program.

Finally she got housing but has difficulty finding a job with her record. Additionally she has no one to take care of the kids during the work day or if they get sick. She also notes that you need a job that pays well because as soon as you start working your assistance goes down while bills only go up.

April notes that there are excellent resources in her area, but she calls attention to a lack of jobs and people who want to listen.

Sister Kieran on Immigrant Voting Rights

Sister Kieran shares her experience being a part of a community in Williamston, NC, where she works closely with the immigrant community.

As pastoral ministry they welcome people who have immigrated from places like the Philippines and parts of Africa. When she speaks of immigrants she means many people who come to the US to make a difference for their families. She speaks of people who immigrate because of difficulties at home, from education to health and safety.

In Williamston these immigrants are welcomed by 130 interdenominational churches that work together to live the Catholic Social Teachings and serve these people. She identifies a struggle with politicians, where immigrant Americans want to vote but don’t have the correct documentation.  This struggle has been going on since 1999.

Sister Kieran shares her prayer that there will be changes for our brothers and sisters who are struggling, and she asks for our continued blessings to make a difference.

Carol on the Aging Population

Carol shares her concerns for the aging population. it’;s difficult to find affordable housing and have enough money to survive. Her personal story is that she lives in a senior community and has to participate in a food bank and food share program.

She shares her hope that we can find a way to lower the cost of living for the elderly. She notes that there are so many people who are suffering and it can be hard to find a way to make sure everyone is taken care of.

Kathy on Mental Health and Disability

Kathy shares her concern for people with disabilities, particularly those with psychiatric labels, because they experience a lot of discrimination and often do not get the services and support they need to thrive.

She notes that we need to talk about tax justice and revenue in order to get a system that works for everyone.

She also calls attention to the issue of affordable housing. She notes that not having basic needs, like food and shelter, makes it extremely difficult to recover from mental illness and be able to thrive in the community.

Janée’s Peaceful Rebellion

Janée tells us about the organization “Connecticut forum,” which brings together people who are knowledgeable about prominent issues to speak to large crowds.

She shares how the program included many big names but was disconnected from the local community and, while it was about race, they didn’t invite anyone from Black Lives Matter. However, they did offer the Bishop some free tickets (the tickets were expensive so many community members couldn’t attend). Janée, the bishop, and others attended to disrupt the forum.

When some people in the back chanted “Black Lives Matter,” Janée gave a minute long speech about how talk isn’t enough while calling attention to who was missing from the stage and the real issues in the community. She wanted to show people that sitting in the theater and applauding the forum isn’t enough and doesn’t change much on the ground.

She notes that it was a very divisive action, and she took a lot of flak, because people didn’t initially understand why they had done it. Once people saw the video of her explaining that they were doing the disruption to call attention to the issue of talk without action, people understood the importance of the action.

Others also note that the disruption did shift the conversation in the forum to have a greater focus on Black Lives Matter and activism.

Maria on Government Assistance

Maria calls attention to the experience of relining on government assistance- that it is insufficient and difficult to access.

She gives the example of a family of three in Rhode Island who would receive $554 a month in cash assistance for rent, clothing, and food (in addition to SNAP benefits), an amount that hasn’t been increased nearly 40 years.

Kateri on Being Here

Kateri shares her admiration for Sister Joan and her gratitude for having met her. She shares her gratitude for being here, and shares her past difficulties with addiction and how Sister Joan helped her turn around from addiction. She credits Sister Joan’s persistence in sticking with her with her being able to move on from addiction.

She also shares how she’s been diagnosed with degenerative bone disease and COPD, but she decided to come speak the Nuns on the Bus because Sister Joan asked her.

Marjorie on Sister Joan’s Support

Marjorie shares her admiration for Sister Joan. She says that besides God, Sister Joan is one of the most important people in her life. Without her in her life she doesn’t know where she would be. Marjorie advocates for more people to work like Joan to help people like her provide resources for children and families.

Marjorie volunteers with Sister Joan, assisting her with her work, and has noticed that a large number of people in her community are just as grateful to Sr. Joan as she is.

She notes how important people like Sr. Joan and the services they provide for the community.