Voices for Recovery
Nilda was born in New Jersey and raised in Puerto Rico until the age of 14, when she moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts to live with her mother. As Nilda was beginning to develop a relationship with her mother, her mother was exposing her to alcohol, marijuana and the allure of nightlife. “By age 15, I was clubbing, drinking, drugging, and eventually became pregnant. By age 18, I had two children and was living on the streets, snorting cocaine. Then, I went from coke to heroin.” By age 27, Nilda had a heroin and crack cocaine habit and was pregnant with her fifth child.
Nilda eventually made the tough decision to place her children with their godparents. “I had to do what I did to support my habit, so I chose the streets.” Nilda continued to struggle with addiction and the only life she knew. “When my drug use became a serious habit, it wasn’t fun anymore – now it was a business. At first it was a party, then sex and drugs became a transaction I had to work for.”
By the time Nilda had her fifth child, she yearned to turn her life around. She was tired of getting high, but continued to struggle through detox programs, never having the support that she needed to stay clean. More than anything, she wanted to have a home with her children and a happy family.
After moving to New Bedford, Nilda was left to fend for herself, only this time instead of resorting to drugs, she found the strength to start over. Eight months pregnant and on Methadone maintenance, she made her way to Seven Hills Behavioral Health’s H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E. for Women Outreach Center, which promotes dignity and respect for women from all walks of life. Nilda began attending the Women’s Issues Group, where she found a place with other women who had had a similar journey and who were ready to turn their lives around. Nilda began to realize that she was not alone.
Walking through New Bedford at night with her newborn child on her hip and the other one holding her hand, she would religiously make her way to the H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E for meetings. “The Women’s Issues Group became a family to me. It was so difficult trying to make it on my own-- I had to steal diapers because my entire check was going to rent. Just after I got my fourth child back, the H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E staff showed up at my door with a stroller, playpen, and other things to help me get back on my feet. ”
At the H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E, the staff offered Nilda her first volunteer job, “I made coffee in the morning, a job I took very seriously. After all, this place was like my family. I knew I wanted to work at H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E. This was the first true goal I had ever accomplished. I felt like I was part of something and realized that I am somebody with a voice that counts. They taught me how to be a woman, a mother, and a friend.”
After working at the H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E for a year, Nilda went back to school and attained her GED. At age 36, Nilda has been clean for 10 years and continues to work at the H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E providing outreach and health education to other women.
Nilda’s next goal is to go back to school to become a substance abuse counselor. She is an inspiration to so many and continues to reach out in her community and help women on their road to recovery at the H.O.M.E. of H.O.P.E.