[Hpn] Former drug addict now helps others kick habit

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 02 Dec 2007 08:47:36 -0500


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Season of Sharing: Former drug addict now helps others kick habit
Elizabeth Fernandez, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Every Tuesday night for two years - without fail - Judy Crawford =
attended a support group for recovering addicts.=20

And each time, she had a special message for the nonprofit where the =
meetings were held:=20

"Someday, I'm going to have an office here."

At the time, it might have seemed an ambitious stretch. Crawford had a =
long history of alcohol and drug abuse. She had even once lost custody =
of her young son because of her drug habit.=20

But she was determined to permanently kick her addictions.=20

And seven years ago, just as she predicted, she landed both a job and an =
office. She was hired as a staff member by the nonprofit - the Homeless =
Prenatal Program, a 19-year-old Mission District center on 18th Street =
that provides a host of services to pregnant women and needy families, =
from food and clothing to job and health care counseling.

Crawford, 49, started as a community health worker, after undergoing =
months of training, and now works as a family case manager.=20

"Judy is an incredibly strong, giving woman," says Martha Ryan, founder =
and executive director of the program. "She connects with people in a =
special way; she really helps people in recovery."

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Crawford moved to San Francisco 14 years =
ago hoping to shake her drug dependency and get a fresh start. But she =
and her 2-year-old son, Tantrell, had nowhere to live, and Crawford =
readily fell into old habits.=20

"At the very beginning, drugs were fun, but then they stopped being fun =
quickly," she says.

But after Child Protective Services intervened, removing her son from =
her custody for seven months - the child was sent to live with relatives =
in Wisconsin - Crawford was jolted into seeking help.=20

She joined an intensive recovery program run by the Salvation Army. =
Then, after regaining custody of Tantrell, she lived for two years in a =
"transitional" housing program, learning about addiction, how to be a =
good mother, how to earn a living.

"I took parenting classes, we went through family therapy, I went to =
school," she says. "I learned how to be responsible."

She got a job with the San Francisco Unified School District in food =
services and was approved for a two-bedroom apartment in the Sunnydale =
housing development in Visitacion Valley.

She and Tantrell lived there for about seven years.

With financial assistance from Season of Sharing two years ago, she and =
her son - now 16 and a high school sophomore - moved into an apartment =
in the East Bay community of Pittsburg.

"It's peaceful," she says. "I haven't heard any gunshots lately."

For about four years at the Homeless Prenatal Program, Crawford =
specialized in helping female inmates in the San Francisco jail system. =
Now she works with pregnant women and families in general, helping them =
obtain health care and housing and to enroll in substance abuse recovery =
programs.=20

"I really like my job," says Crawford, who is working toward a drug and =
alcohol counseling certificate at City College of San Francisco. "We are =
one big old family here. It's great to be able to give back, to share =
what I know. I let my clients know that I've been there myself and what =
I did to get a better life. Some people are surprised - they say I don't =
look like I used to be out there."

For many, Crawford has become an inspiration, says Martha Ryan, who =
helped hire her.=20

"They see that she was able to turn her life around and that it's =
possible for them too," says Ryan. "She is the epitome of what one can =
do with one's life when you begin to believe in yourself and when you =
see your own strengths."

Crawford has been clean and sober for 12 years and still attends =
Narcotics Anonymous meetings regularly. Several years ago, she started =
an Alcoholics Anonymous group at the Homeless Prenatal Program.=20

"Crack cocaine wants to take you down," she says. "But in my case, I =
didn't let it take me."

On the door to her office is her name and some purple paper hearts. =
Inside, she's festooned the walls with dozens of photographs of clients =
and staff members and certificates of her accomplishments.

"It feels good to have an office of my own," she says. "I do feel proud =
of myself. I've come a long way."


About the fund=20
For the past 21 years, The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund has been the =
Bay Area's largest private source of direct aid for people in need of =
emergency financial assistance. We are proud to say that since 1986, 100 =
percent of the money raised for the Season of Sharing Fund has gone out =
to the communities we serve.=20

Unlike other organizations that provide relief for an indefinite period =
of time, The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund is designed to keep people =
on their feet with a one-time grant.=20

Each year, the fund helps more than 5,000 families around the Bay Area, =
allocating most of its grants for basic needs such as move-in costs and =
housing, and sometimes paying for necessities such as transportation to =
work, wheelchair ramps and even essential furniture for family =
reunification. Grants are always paid directly to the supplier of =
services, such as a landlord. Individuals cannot receive direct grants =
from Season of Sharing.=20

The fund, which also provides more than 500,000 meals each year for =
low-income families, relies on donations from readers. The money is =
distributed year-round.=20

Every penny of your donation goes directly to those who need it most. =
Overhead is covered by The Chronicle, by interest earned from the Season =
of Sharing Fund and through support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. =
Fund. For more information, visit www.seasonofsharing.org.

Donations to the Season of Sharing Fund help thousands of people in the =
Bay Area throughout the year. Assistance is in the form of grants paid =
directly to the supplier of services, such as a landlord. Individuals =
cannot receive direct grants. For more information, visit =
www.seasonofsharing.org. E-mail Elizabeth Fernandez at =
efernandez@sfchronicle.com.=20

This article appeared on page C - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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<DIV class=3Dheadlines>
<H1>Season of Sharing: Former drug addict now helps others kick =
habit</H1></DIV>
<P class=3Dbyline><A =
href=3D"mailto:efernandez@sfchronicle.com">Elizabeth Fernandez,=20
Chronicle Staff Writer</A></P>
<P class=3Ddate>Sunday, December 2, 2007</P>
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<P>Every Tuesday night for two years - without fail - Judy Crawford =
attended a=20
support group for recovering addicts. </P>
<P>And each time, she had a special message for the nonprofit where the =
meetings=20
were held: </P>
<P>"Someday, I'm going to have an office here."</P>
<P>At the time, it might have seemed an ambitious stretch. Crawford had =
a long=20
history of alcohol and drug abuse. She had even once lost custody of her =
young=20
son because of her drug habit. </P>
<P>But she was determined to permanently kick her addictions. </P>
<P>And seven years ago, just as she predicted, she landed both a job and =
an=20
office. She was hired as a staff member by the nonprofit - the Homeless =
Prenatal=20
Program, a 19-year-old Mission District center on 18th Street that =
provides a=20
host of services to pregnant women and needy families, from food and =
clothing to=20
job and health care counseling.</P>
<P>Crawford, 49, started as a community health worker, after undergoing =
months=20
of training, and now works as a family case manager. </P>
<P>"Judy is an incredibly strong, giving woman," says Martha Ryan, =
founder and=20
executive director of the program. "She connects with people in a =
special way;=20
she really helps people in recovery."</P>
<P>Born and raised in Milwaukee, Crawford moved to San Francisco 14 =
years ago=20
hoping to shake her drug dependency and get a fresh start. But she and =
her=20
2-year-old son, Tantrell, had nowhere to live, and Crawford readily fell =
into=20
old habits. </P>
<P>"At the very beginning, drugs were fun, but then they stopped being =
fun=20
quickly," she says.</P>
<P>But after Child Protective Services intervened, removing her son from =
her=20
custody for seven months - the child was sent to live with relatives in=20
Wisconsin - Crawford was jolted into seeking help. </P>
<P>She joined an intensive recovery program run by the Salvation Army. =
Then,=20
after regaining custody of Tantrell, she lived for two years in a =
"transitional"=20
housing program, learning about addiction, how to be a good mother, how =
to earn=20
a living.</P>
<P>"I took parenting classes, we went through family therapy, I went to =
school,"=20
she says. "I learned how to be responsible."</P>
<P>She got a job with the San Francisco Unified School District in food =
services=20
and was approved for a two-bedroom apartment in the Sunnydale housing=20
development in Visitacion Valley.</P>
<P>She and Tantrell lived there for about seven years.</P>
<P>With financial assistance from Season of Sharing two years ago, she =
and her=20
son - now 16 and a high school sophomore - moved into an apartment in =
the East=20
Bay community of Pittsburg.</P>
<P>"It's peaceful," she says. "I haven't heard any gunshots lately."</P>
<P>For about four years at the Homeless Prenatal Program, Crawford =
specialized=20
in helping female inmates in the San Francisco jail system. Now she =
works with=20
pregnant women and families in general, helping them obtain health care =
and=20
housing and to enroll in substance abuse recovery programs. </P>
<P>"I really like my job," says Crawford, who is working toward a drug =
and=20
alcohol counseling certificate at City College of San Francisco. "We are =
one big=20
old family here. It's great to be able to give back, to share what I =
know. I let=20
my clients know that I've been there myself and what I did to get a =
better life.=20
Some people are surprised - they say I don't look like I used to be out=20
there."</P>
<P>For many, Crawford has become an inspiration, says Martha Ryan, who =
helped=20
hire her. </P>
<P>"They see that she was able to turn her life around and that it's =
possible=20
for them too," says Ryan. "She is the epitome of what one can do with =
one's life=20
when you begin to believe in yourself and when you see your own =
strengths."</P>
<P>Crawford has been clean and sober for 12 years and still attends =
Narcotics=20
Anonymous meetings regularly. Several years ago, she started an =
Alcoholics=20
Anonymous group at the Homeless Prenatal Program. </P>
<P>"Crack cocaine wants to take you down," she says. "But in my case, I =
didn't=20
let it take me."</P>
<P>On the door to her office is her name and some purple paper hearts. =
Inside,=20
she's festooned the walls with dozens of photographs of clients and =
staff=20
members and certificates of her accomplishments.</P>
<P>"It feels good to have an office of my own," she says. "I do feel =
proud of=20
myself. I've come a long way."</P>
<P></P>
<DIV class=3Dinfobox>
<H3>About the fund </H3>
<P>For the past 21 years, The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund has been =
the Bay=20
Area's largest private source of direct aid for people in need of =
emergency=20
financial assistance. We are proud to say that since 1986, 100 percent =
of the=20
money raised for the Season of Sharing Fund has gone out to the =
communities we=20
serve. </P>
<P>Unlike other organizations that provide relief for an indefinite =
period of=20
time, The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund is designed to keep people on =
their=20
feet with a one-time grant. </P>
<P>Each year, the fund helps more than 5,000 families around the Bay =
Area,=20
allocating most of its grants for basic needs such as move-in costs and =
housing,=20
and sometimes paying for necessities such as transportation to work, =
wheelchair=20
ramps and even essential furniture for family reunification. Grants are =
always=20
paid directly to the supplier of services, such as a landlord. =
Individuals=20
cannot receive direct grants from Season of Sharing. </P>
<P>The fund, which also provides more than 500,000 meals each year for=20
low-income families, relies on donations from readers. The money is =
distributed=20
year-round. </P>
<P>Every penny of your donation goes directly to those who need it most. =

Overhead is covered by The Chronicle, by interest earned from the Season =
of=20
Sharing Fund and through support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. =
Fund. For=20
more information, visit <EM><A=20
href=3D"http://www.seasonofsharing.org/">www.seasonofsharing.org</A></EM>=
.</P></DIV>
<P><I>Donations to the Season of Sharing Fund help thousands of people =
in the=20
Bay Area throughout the year. Assistance is in the form of grants paid =
directly=20
to the supplier of services, such as a landlord. Individuals cannot =
receive=20
direct grants. For more information, visit <A=20
href=3D"http://www.seasonofsharing.org/">www.seasonofsharing.org</A>. =
E-mail=20
Elizabeth Fernandez at <A=20
href=3D"mailto:efernandez@sfchronicle.com">efernandez@sfchronicle.com</A>=
.</I>=20
</SPAN></P></DIV><!--/articlecontent -->
<P id=3Dpageno>This article appeared on page <STRONG>C - 2</STRONG> of =
the=20
San&nbsp;Francisco&nbsp;Chronicle</P></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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