Bright-eyed Dashawn came from New York City to Baltimore in 2007. She and her two children needed to escape an unsafe situation. Still, she says the move was mostly positive: she brought both her managerial job and her once-estranged mother along. The family found a haven with supportive Charm City relatives.
Like many HUM clients, Dashawn’s childhood was plagued by instability. New York’s child welfare system removed her from her mother’s care about age ten.
Still, Dashawn’s adult life was clicking along when tragedy struck. Her mother, who had HIV, developed a blood infection. A trip to the ER suddenly led to hospice care. Within three months, her mother died. Overwhelmed by grief, Dashawn starting smoking marijuana and drinking. Her escape quickly turned into full-time dependence. Meanwhile, Dashawn kept working, eventually starting at a local casino. This seemingly good news wasn’t. Dashawn’s children were now older. Their growing independence enabled bad habits. her drinking escalated.
Another job change—to another casino amplified Dashawn’s problems. She drank daily after work. Dashawn remembers penny-pinching, not for rainy days or the future, but to feed destructive habits. At this point, she says she was “way out of counter.” Depression from grief and substance abuse took their toll, as did chronic pain from osteoarthritis. Dashawn found herself in a terrible place– “not caring about anything anymore.”
The situation came to a head with twin crises in 2019. Dashawn experienced eviction and went to detox. Because she couldn’t communicate with her employers, she lost her job. Dashawn was wondering how to move forward when her brother, a former HUM client, recommended Helping Up Mission. Ironically, he wasn’t even entirely aware of HUM’s newer programs for women. Who knows how the spirit moves?
Dashawn was stuck in the terrible loop of substance dependency. She desperately needed a job; but couldn’t get one without quitting marijuana; to really, permanently, quit, she knew she needed a totally new environment. Dashawn reached out to HUM and quickly joined the then six-month pilot Women’s Spiritual Recovery Program.
Dashawn completed the program and moved into our Graduate Transitional Housing Program. After living and learning among empathetic peers and staff for more than a year, she’s remains hungry for more of the warm, wholistic support HUM offers. She believes so strongly in the good work we do that she recently joined the staff! It’s great to see Dashawn guiding others on the tough, rewarding road she’s travelling—one that leads to the redemption of troubled minds, bodies and spirits.
Dashawn loves the new life she’s crafting here at HUM, particularly as our programs grow to reach more women, including mothers with young children. HUM’s new Women’s and Children’s Center open s this winter.