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I Found My Person - Sabrina's Success Story

I’ll never forget it: the date was November 17, 2006, and I was in jail for drug charges.

A lady was doing HIV testing at the prison, and I’d wanted to get tested for a while just to know; but I also had this “feeling” lately, because I’d had symptoms of thrush and didn’t understand why. I wanted to die when she told me I was positive! I felt ashamed, because I knew that my addiction was behind the choices I’d made that brought me here.

I’d started drinking and doing cocaine in my late twenties, but when my grandmother – who raised me – passed away in 2004, I started smoking crack and just gave up on everything. My life had changed so much that I couldn’t look in the mirror, because I didn’t want to see the person I had become. I was out on the streets trading sex for food, drugs, places to stay, or even just companionship. I tried to kill myself once by taking pills because I couldn’t deal with life on life’s terms.

Once I got out of prison, I bounced around between living on the streets and in shelters, my life going nowhere. It was my therapist who told me about Broward House’s drug treatment program. Before Broward House – at 48 years old – I’d never lived a life that I wanted; but better late than never!

The program at Broward House gave me confidence and a sense of direction. It brought out the best in me, taught me that the shame I felt for my past didn’t matter, and helped me look towards my future. With their help, I also learned how to reach out to the right people and surround myself with positive people. Now I have a whole other family I can depend on for support! It has been so helpful to know that I’m not in this alone.

I also now have a better understanding of HIV. I’ve learned that being HIV positive isn’t a death sentence: it’s an eye-opener, because it made me contemplate my life and how I got to where I am. Now, my goal is to inspire people by becoming an HIV Advocate. The simple fact is that it’s hard, and a lot of women don’t have help or know where to find support. My goal was to successfully complete the program and maintain my sobriety, and I just graduated! I’m proud of myself for staying clean and sober the entire time. I’ve also started working again, and I don’t worry about getting fired, because I’m no longer drinking and getting high. I’m taking care of myself, taking my HIV meds and building my self-esteem.

Recovery and knowledge have set my soul free, and I feel like I have transformed into a butterfly. I am out there working for a better life. I like to smile. I like to dress up. I like to be pretty. Just looking in the mirror is a blessing. I’m finally free!

Broward House is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

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