Recovering an addict by helping others get an education, find a job – The Oakland Press

Christine Johnson’s life took a turn from a vibrant childhood to stints in prison to adulthood.

Johnson is the new Career and Education Coordinator at the non-profit Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac. But before she achieved sobriety, she has hit rock bottom.

Born in the Battle Creek area into a two-parent Catholic family, a good educational basis was strongly encouraged. After getting a 32 on her ACT, she attended the University of Dayton in Ohio, where she studied philosophy and communication.

“Part of what happened when I left for college was I got there and it was a lot of stress,” Johnson said. “It was a different environment and I had mental health issues, depression and anxiety. I also went through things growing up that were a bit detrimental to my development.

It didn’t take long for him to enter a self-proclaimed downward spiral. From around the age of 18, she started using heroin and methamphetamine and ended up in prison on several occasions. She eventually dropped out of college and continued to use until the age of 31, when she was arrested for making her own methamphetamine.

“I had really sunk,” she said. “I started in a really great place, a really great family and a lot of education. And I had gone all the way.

As she faced serious criminal charges, she contacted an aunt in the Fenton area who had a connection to incorporate her into a recovery program at the Grace Centers. By this time, Johnson had already undergone rehabilitation 12 to 15 times, intensive counseling and several 3-6 month programs.

She was accepted to Grace Centers. When she was released from prison, her mother and aunt dropped her off in Pontiac.

Johnson helps a Grace Centers of Hope client in the Career and Education Center. (Grace Centers of Hope)

Johnson quickly took on the role of admissions coordinator at the women’s center, helping other women participate in the program for about two years. On October 7, she reprized her current role.

The career and education center offers computer training and work preparation etc. Since 2020, he has helped 71 clients get jobs, including helping seven clients get their GEDs in 6-8 months.

Clients come in from grade six and progress, Johnson said. It helps them find suitable employment based on their modes of transportation, income and whether or not they have children due to child care costs and requiring larger budgets.

Grace Centers of Hope also offers bridging courses. At the end of the men’s and women’s programs, they spend months learning how to go through job interviews and explain job gaps. They also learn to work alone or in a team, while taking courses in relapse prevention.

Johnson said one of the reasons bridging classes started was due to relapse stress for recovering addicts. In 2020, there were 63 clients in the transition classes.

“We have a 100% placement rate,” she said. “Every customer that comes through here gets a job. “

For the better part of over a dozen years Johnson was in and out of prisons and counseling programs. Each time she took one step forward, she then took two steps back.

Years later, she uses her own education to benefit others in a positive way, through an organization that has given her “a ray of hope” that has changed her life. She even met her husband in the Grace Centers.

“It’s a definite part of the circle, if not the full circle for me,” she said.


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