For more than 30 years, an organization called Marian House in Baltimore, Maryland, has labored to help women in desperate circumstances - women struggling with homelessness, substance abuse and poverty. So far, it has helped more than 1,000 women rebuild their lives. One Marian House graduate turned her own life around and is now helping others do the same.
Monica Scott's phone rings all day. And there’s someone on the other end who needs help - who probably got her number from someone else she’s helped.
“The good thing that I’m able to do is to meet them where they are and then from where they are be able to assess them, and hopefully be able to refer them somewhere that day and if not that day, within the next couple of days have them a place to go to be able to seek help," she said.
Scott was a substance abuser for more than 24 years. She used heroin, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and pills. She became homeless - turned to prostitution and drug dealing - and ended up going to prison.
“I came home from prison after four years, six months and 20 days to the Marian House," she said. "And that’s when my life started.”
After Marian House, she earned college degrees in Human Services and Psychology, and a certificate in Addiction Counseling. She’s pursuing a Masters Degree while working as a counselor and outreach worker for the Baltimore County health system. She says her troubled background makes her better at her job.
"Because I’ve lived on both sides of the fence, I’ve lived on both sides of the tracks so I can empathize on a personal perspective as well as from a professional perspective," she said.
As she walks the streets of Baltimore, she encounters many of her success stories.
"It is amazing when you see them and they see you 5-10 years later and say, I wanna thank you for what you did for me because you don’t understand how much how much you believing in me at that moment really meant to me," Scott said. "So those are the special moments that kind of touch me personally.
Scott says she’s an example of what an addict can do if given the appropriate support.
"I survived active addiction, do you really know what that means? do you really know what that means? That means that if I can overcome that with the help of a god, then I can overcome any other obstacle that is placed in my way because its not that heavy," she said. "It ain’t that heavy. “
Scott has been clean from substance use for eight years. Her work to help others reach the same success is not ending any time soon.