Good Shepherd Gracenter

Deborah Jackson credits her recovery from drug addiction to Gracenter, a transitional, licensed recovery residence run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of San Francisco.

September 10th, 2014
By Christina Gray

Deborah Jackson was born 49 years ago and raised in Butte County. But where she grew up, she says, is at Gracenter, a transitional, licensed recovery residence run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of San Francisco.

Three years ago, when the recovering addict and former felon arrived at the ranch-style home on University Mound, a gentle rise on the west side of Highway 101 in San Francisco’s Portola District where the sisters have lived and operated programs for young women since 1932, she was clean and sober.

But after spending nearly her entire adult life thus far in addiction, prison and then recovery, Jackson so lacked practical life skills and the self-confidence that goes with them that she almost didn’t show up.

“I didn’t know what to do or how to do it,” she told Catholic San Francisco Sept. 3 in the comfortable living quarters of the residence she shares with 10 other women and the staff dedicated to their recovery: Gracenter executive director Good Shepherd Sister Marguerite Bartling, and Sandra Munoz, case manager.

Less visible but prayerfully involved on a daily basis in each woman’s recovery are the seven Good Shepherd sisters in the adjacent convent.

“I knew in my heart that I would have found my way back to the no-good,” Jackson said. “I needed more help.”

Good is what she found, though. At Gracenter, she learned how to live and interact with others, she began studying for her GED exam and got a job helping youth aging out of the foster care system. Most importantly, she learned to have faith in herself, others and God again.

Sister Marguerite points to a board in the common area where in September for National Recovery Month, the women each posted messages about what their recovery means to them.

Gracenter is guided by the values of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd community – compassion, reconciliation, zeal and mercy – and the belief in the dignity and worth of every person as a child of God.

The program, funded by donations, grants and the volunteer efforts of the Gracenter Women’s Guild and others, is open to any woman who demonstrates a commitment to clean and sober living and a strong will to reclaim their lives.

An annual fundraising event, “An Art and Food Soiree” will be held at SomArts Gallery in San Francisco Sept. 13 to benefit Gracenter.

Typically, applicants to Gracenter have completed a primary recovery program and are seeking to re-establish employment and healthy relationships.

Gracenter’s program integrates the 12-step (Alcoholics Anonymous) long-term recovery model for drug and alcohol addiction. Residents have private rooms but share meals, prayers, chores and struggles, while Sister Marguerite and Munoz help each woman articulate goals and create individual action plans. They also provide access to education, paid internships, employment networking and links to primary physical and mental health care clinics.

Each woman makes a six-month minimum commitment to the program and pays a small monthly fee. They may stay up to two years to complete their goals.

Jackson’s three-year stay was exceptional, but so was her progress, said, Sister Bartling who extended Jackson’s program.

Part-Choctaw Indian, Jackson came from a loving, affluent home in Oroville, near Redding. Her addiction to crystal methamphetamine “just happened one day,” and she said, “it spiraled out of control fast.”

Jackson said she “pretty much gave my daughter to my mother,” stole money to keep her habit going and went to prison on felony charges.

“I was a broken soul,” she said. “I knew that if I didn’t seek help I would die.”

Jackson’s story confirms what is known about addiction: People from any kind of background can become drug- or alcohol-addicted. “Once it gets into your mind and body, you’ve found your answer to whatever pain you’ve got,” said Jackson. “It’s very had to give that up.”

Jackson’s “treatment” came in the form of a long prison term. She’s never relapsed since leaving prison, but she did continue to struggle. “Drugs are not the only problem. Your thinking behavior, your actions, is the problem,” she said.

One day, a woman that she had never seen before or since and whose memory brings Jackson to tears, said: “You can be anything you want to be,” and she believed her.

“You learn to live your life here,” said Jackson, who will leave Gracenter in mid-September to spread her wings. Ninety-seven percent of graduates to go on to full-time employment or volunteer work.

“Even though I didn’t know how to pray when I got here, I learned to pray with the sisters. And at night I thank God for waking me up,” she said.

Visit www.gsgracenter.org.

From September 12, 2014 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

See more at: http://www.catholic-sf.org/ns.php?newsid=22&id=62686#sthash.W0rZGAGQ.dpuf


(Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco)


Deborah Jackson credits her recovery from drug addiction to Gracenter, a transitional, licensed recovery residence run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of San Francisco.



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‘Broken soul’: Sisters’ work guides addict’s prayerful healing
September 10th, 2014
By Christina Gray

 

Deborah Jackson was born 49 years ago and raised in Butte County. But where she grew up, she says, is at Gracenter, a transitional, licensed recovery residence run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of San Francisco.


Three years ago, when the recovering addict and former felon arrived at the ranch-style home on University Mound, a gentle rise on the west side of Highway 101 in San Francisco’s Portola District where the sisters have lived and operated programs for young women since 1932, she was clean and sober.


But after spending nearly her entire adult life thus far in addiction, prison and then recovery, Jackson so lacked practical life skills and the self-confidence that goes with them that she almost didn’t show up.


“I didn’t know what to do or how to do it,” she told Catholic San Francisco Sept. 3 in the comfortable living quarters of the residence she shares with 10 other women and the staff dedicated to their recovery: Gracenter executive director Good Shepherd Sister Marguerite Bartling, and Sandra Munoz, case manager.


Less visible but prayerfully involved on a daily basis in each woman’s recovery are the seven Good Shepherd sisters in the adjacent convent.


“I knew in my heart that I would have found my way back to the no-good,” Jackson said. “I needed more help.”


Good is what she found, though. At Gracenter, she learned how to live and interact with others, she began studying for her GED exam and got a job helping youth aging out of the foster care system. Most importantly, she learned to have faith in herself, others and God again.


Sister Marguerite points to a board in the common area where in September for National Recovery Month, the women each posted messages about what their recovery means to them.


Gracenter is guided by the values of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd community – compassion, reconciliation, zeal and mercy – and the belief in the dignity and worth of every person as a child of God.


The program, funded by donations, grants and the volunteer efforts of the Gracenter Women’s Guild and others, is open to any woman who demonstrates a commitment to clean and sober living and a strong will to reclaim their lives.


An annual fundraising event, “An Art and Food Soiree” will be held at SomArts Gallery in San Francisco Sept. 13 to benefit Gracenter.


Typically, applicants to Gracenter have completed a primary recovery program and are seeking to re-establish employment and healthy relationships.


Gracenter’s program integrates the 12-step (Alcoholics Anonymous) long-term recovery model for drug and alcohol addiction. Residents have private rooms but share meals, prayers, chores and struggles, while Sister Marguerite and Munoz help each woman articulate goals and create individual action plans. They also provide access to education, paid internships, employment networking and links to primary physical and mental health care clinics.


Each woman makes a six-month minimum commitment to the program and pays a small monthly fee. They may stay up to two years to complete their goals.


Jackson’s three-year stay was exceptional, but so was her progress, said, Sister Bartling who extended Jackson’s program.


Part-Choctaw Indian, Jackson came from a loving, affluent home in Oroville, near Redding. Her addiction to crystal methamphetamine “just happened one day,” and she said, “it spiraled out of control fast.”


Jackson said she “pretty much gave my daughter to my mother,” stole money to keep her habit going and went to prison on felony charges.


“I was a broken soul,” she said. “I knew that if I didn’t seek help I would die.”


Jackson’s story confirms what is known about addiction: People from any kind of background can become drug- or alcohol-addicted. “Once it gets into your mind and body, you’ve found your answer to whatever pain you’ve got,” said Jackson. “It’s very had to give that up.”


Jackson’s “treatment” came in the form of a long prison term. She’s never relapsed since leaving prison, but she did continue to struggle. “Drugs are not the only problem. Your thinking behavior, your actions, is the problem,” she said.


One day, a woman that she had never seen before or since and whose memory brings Jackson to tears, said: “You can be anything you want to be,” and she believed her.


“You learn to live your life here,” said Jackson, who will leave Gracenter in mid-September to spread her wings. Ninety-seven percent of graduates to go on to full-time employment or volunteer work.


“Even though I didn’t know how to pray when I got here, I learned to pray with the sisters. And at night I thank God for waking me up,” she said.


Visit www.gsgracenter.org.

From September 12, 2014 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

- See more at: http://www.catholic-sf.org/ns.php?newsid=22&id=62686#sthash.W0rZGAGQ.dpuf