In February, 2018 I was told by my parole officer, I would need to pack what I could carry and go to the Children’s Inn. The next morning, I would need to check into the St. Francis House.
Prior to this day, for the most part, I had been successful on parole for 2 years. Unfortunately, the full story is I wasn’t fully honest with my parole officer about all the things happening in my life. I know realize if I had just been honest with him and told him these things, he would have gotten me out sooner. The whole year-and-a-half process I went through could have been avoided.
Fortunately, I believe it all happened for a reason and it needed to happen that way so that I could see things for how they really were. Because without these events, I would have kept falling backwards into the same thing.
I got out of prison after two years for felony DUIs. I was told things were one way and they were the complete opposite. Through many months of mental abuse, many arguments, physical altercations, lies, cheating, stealing, drug abuse, and all out false impersonation of who he really was, I wanted to leave my husband but didn’t know how to get out.
In late January of 2018, my parole officer amongst others came to my home and I was arrested for things that were not mine. Now I don’t pretend to be completely innocent. I did drugs with my husband more than a handful of times. I had it in my head if I did use with him, I wouldn’t be the boring wife. He wouldn’t need to be with or search out anyone else. This was the worst day of my life. I was looking at fifty years with all of my charges. My ex never got a single charge. My son was taken from me. He was all I had and I was all he had for a long time. I got out on a PR bond as long as I agreed I would do two UA’s a week and be on good standing with parole. After a very heated CPS meeting that’s when my PO decided for my own safety to get me to the St. Francis House.
So now, I can see through all of those issues and it was one of the best things to happen to me. I didn’t want that relationship. I wanted the thought of what marriage was, but with the help of staff at the St. Francis House, I quickly got my divorce papers and filed them myself. I passed every UA and did anything CPS told me I had to do. I finished outpatient treatment and kept two jobs almost my whole stay in the program. All while riding the bus, walking, or riding a bike no matter what the weather from my place of work at Lake Lorraine. I was moved in May of that year to a family housing unit and got full custody of our son. I paid off past debts and saved enough to get my license back and purchase a car of our own.
Even though I wanted to get out, I had no way of knowing how to go about it, but the staff at the St. Francis House were there to provide me with advice, community resources and the push to keep me on the right path. I moved out of the St. Francis House family unit May of 2020. I still talk to Carolee and Julie about things I need advice on a regular basis. They continue to provide support and love to my kids and myself. I couldn’t be more grateful for all their support. I have not had many people I could trust and rely upon in my lifetime. These people honestly care if you give them the chance and do the work to build a new life!
My name is Tony. I’m 36 years old. I am currently a guest at the St. Francis House. I’m part of the hope program, and live in the Sherman House. I am from Sioux Falls, and have lived here for 30 years of my life. I graduated high school, and attended college here. I have a 12 year old daughter. I have also been married for 5 years. About 10 months ago my wife asked me to leave and due to selfish, immature choices I had been making. I have been struggling with addiction for the last 15 years.
In June of 2016 I became homeless. I had exhausted all of my options for places to stay, and lived in my truck for about 2 months. In August, I went through my darkest time. Hitting rock bottom, I checked myself into Avera Behavioral Health Center. From there I went to inpatient treatment at Keystone. After a week at a halfway house, I applied to get into the Genesis program at St. Francis House. This included giving up control of all my income. This sounded kind of interesting to me, because finances are one of the biggest causes of stress in my life. Poor money management and lack of respect for money has caused me to lose everything I’ve had, two times in my life. One thing I’ve never had is a savings account. I always lived check to check. Never being able to stay caught up; I have a mountain of debt. Here I’ve been able to address these debts head on, like an adult. Although it seems like a huge list, I feel confident I can handle it with the St. Francis House’s help.
Recently, I had some unexpected expenses with my vehicle. In the past I would have had to do a payday loan, borrow from friends or family, or consider some other way to get the money. This time though, I had the money in my house account. My bills have also been kept current. It seems impossible that I could survive on 50% of my income. At the St. Francis House, it’s been possible. I’ve also been able to pay down on several debts. I was offered a settlement on a large debt, and my account actually had the money to pay it! I've been here for 5 months and I feel confident that I can become debt free. If I continue to work on myself, and my addictions, I can be the person I was created to be. In time, I can be a good father, and possibly reconcile my marriage. I’ve been given the tools, and the perfect opportunity to fulfill my goals.
My name is Dan Meyer; I was referred to the St. Francis House by a friend. I was in a very rough spot in life. I checked into the house in February of 2016. I didn’t realize that Julie Becker was the Director; I am from Luverne and knew her and her family growing up.
I was assigned to a bed in the basement, and was there for a while. I got a job working though the Command Center, working at the Convention Center. I worked and went to AA meetings on a regular basis. During this time, I started building my relationship back with my son's, Cole and Alex. Then I started working at Beck & Hofer Construction. During this time I was able to move to the Sherman House and was put on Hope status. I worked with Beck & Hofer until August. Then I worked for Jans Corporation for a short time. I then went back to the Command Center, working for the Convention Center doing janitorial work and worked for them until about Christmas time. I had applied for a job with the Sioux Falls school system and after a long hiring process I was hired at Lincoln High School as a janitor.
Julie helped me get paperwork straight and I got my license January 1. The day after 1 year of sobriety, the St. Francis House gave me a car on January 2, 2017. It is a 2005 Dodge Stratus and I am so grateful for the St. Francis House for what they did for me. I would help around the house as much as my schedule allowed, 3-4 hours a day normally.
My boys are my life and motivate me to keep going. I live for god, Cole Carter (16) & Alex Daniel (24).
I left the St. Francis House, on May 10, 2017 (15 months) and moved to Mankato, MN to be closer to my boys. While at the St. Francis House I saved $9,000 to start my life over again. I started working for Gary at Care Takers in Mankato. Gary is my AA sponsor and his daughter Lindsey is my boss. Through going to AA meetings at least 3-4 meeting per week, I am sober and living a great life today! 538 days sober as of 7/20/17. 368 meetings attended. 18 months of sobriety as of 7/28/17!
The St. Francis House has taught me to be humble and grateful, and to protect then blind side at all time. This experience gave me integrity, humility and confidence to be able to move on with my life!
While I was serving time in the Minnehaha County Jail in February, March and April of 2014, I was desperate to find a sentencing alternative that didn’t involve prison or even worse more time in the county jail. I wrote a letter to Julie Becker and she was nice enough to reply and give me a second chance living at the St. Francis House, I had made some mistakes a few years prior and was asked to leave. With some help from my lawyer, the judge agreed to release me to the St. Francis House in mid-April of 2014. Thankfully, I had a job waiting for me when I was released. The hours I worked were long and at odd times of the day, plus I was completing treatment 3 days a week at Choices Recovery. The St. Francis House and their staff were more than accommodating, allowing me to get what sleep I could and saving meals for me to eat at all hours of the day. With the help of an excellent letter of referral from Julie, after 3 months at the house the judge agreed to sentence me to 1 year at the St. Francis House and suspended all my jail time. Providing I stay sober, stay on the 24/7 program and stay in good standing with all the rules and guidelines of the St. Francis House. I can’t tell you what a relief this was to me.
While in jail in 2014, I began to develop an irritation on the side of my tongue. At the time I chalked it up to the god awful diet they provided for inmates. This, however, was not the case. After seeing a doctor at Sioux Falls Community Help, I was referred to see a dentist. After seeing an oral surgeon who does pro bono work for Community Health that the irritation which had grown and was so painful I could hardly eat, was cancerous. My first question was, is it terminal? He told me no and we moved forward from there. I was referred to a group of specialists at Sanford Health who have taken care of me with full effort despite my lack of health insurance and ability to pay for any of my care. Over the next several months, there were 2 surgeries and worst of all by far, 6 weeks of radiation treatment to my head and neck area. I have always valued my health and have always been in good health. Prior to this cancer diagnosis I hadn’t seen a doctor more than a few times in 15 years. It was and continues to be a trying ordeal both mentally and physically.
This brings me back to the St. Francis House and their staff. I can say without a doubt in my mind that they helped me make it through this fight in one piece. I was bedridden for a few weeks, was unable to eat anything solid for nearly 4 months, all while trying to maintain a full time job and most importantly stay sober. During this time, staff always asked how I was feeling and offered help in any way possible. They smiled and stayed patient with me as my mood wasn’t always the best it could be. Most of all, they were there for me as support when I needed it the most. I have a few family members in town thankfully, but not many friends. If I hadn't been living in the supportive environment of the St. Francis House I don't believe I would have maintained my sobriety or my freedom. Despite all that has transpired I left the St. Francis House with enough money to pay off the wreckage of debt I created before the events that led me to jail. I am proud to say, that in 2015 I opened up my own business called Safe Ship, located at 2821 E 10th Street. It's been a long 20 year struggle. However, I have a bright future in front of me. I will never forget what the St. Francis House did for me and will continue to move forward by taking life one day and one struggle at a time.
I would like to say the St. Francis House has helped me in my road to recovery in many ways such as a place to live, good food and many other resources available. The St. Francis House has been very helpful to my 273 days of being sober and drug free by providing structure, rules, scheduling and helping me relearn and maintaining a positive healthy way of life and living skills. I appreciate all the psychological and mental support of the staff who I have gotten to know and who have helped me.
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