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Fifteen years ago, Theresa had the opportunity to see Father Joe’s philosophy in action. Theresa struggled with substance use and bipolar disorder for decades without seeking help. Eventually, her drinking and cocaine-use became a daily routine and Theresa fell into homelessness. After experiencing homelessness for over five years, Theresa had a chance encounter that changed her life. 

She met Father Joe on the street and he began to ask her about her life and situation.  

“I met Father Joe by accident—We just happened to be walking down the same street. And at the time I was really down and suicidal and just didn’t feel I belonged in this world. He looked like a priest and I figured, ‘You know, maybe if I talk to a priest, I’ll feel better.’” 

He began to ask her about her life and situation. Then, he asked what he would ask every person in need: “What do you think you need to overcome homelessness?” 

She thought about it, then replied, “I need to catch up on my education. I need to train for a job. I need a job. I need to get sober.” 

“We have all of that for you,” said Father Joe.  

That was the beginning of Theresa’s recovery.  

Theresa moved into shelter at Father Joe’s Villages and began receiving critical services The dedicated behavioral health team at Father Joe’s Villages began by helping Theresa secure regular medication for her bipolar disorder. 

“If I didn’t get my mental state in order, the rest wasn’t going to be very successful,” Theresa said. “The medication helped me get my head straight so I could focus on getting sober.” 

Then, Father Joe’s Villages Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Counselors introduced her to group therapy and encouraged Theresa to join a local support group.  

“Group therapy helped me because I needed to be around people who were going through what I was going through and I needed to be reminded why I was staying sober.” 

Now that Theresa was on the road to recovery, she had more energy to spend on building a brighter future. She got her GED and began taking property management classes. She graduated with a certificate and was able to secure a job, which included an apartment.  

Now, 15 years later, Theresa remains in housing and has continued her sobriety. 

“My life is so much better now. I have my own apartment. I’m paying rent. Every human being deserves happiness and joy. And Father Joe’s Villages knows how to give that to you.” 

Because of Father Joe’s foresight to listen—truly listen—to the needs of the people on the streets, thousands of lives, like Theresa’s, have been saved over the past four decades. 

“He made me believe, because he believed so well,” said Theresa. “He really saved my life.”