Cycle Broken: Jennifer and Gio's Story

Growing up, life had it’s ups and downs. I was 13 when I started smoking weed, and then I began to experiment with other drugs here and there. My childhood was a mixture of good days, and other days held some dysfunctional behaviors that kept me a prisoner to the substances I learned to love. My family had it’s struggles. My mother had been abused so she was a tough love kind of mom. She was an alcoholic in my early years but when I turned 3 she got sober, and then began wrestling with depression. As I got older abuse found their emotional and physical claws etched deep in my heart. I ran to self medicating to cope with my inner screams.

The longer I used my cravings got worse. I was doing something that was hurting my family, so I would use more to try to cover up the guilt and shame

At Age 24 life sent me it’s hardest blow. I lost my father, and he was my world. He always had a way of making me feel loved and cared for. He made me feel like I could do, or be anything. When he died the heaviness I felt inside was too much, and I plunged deeper into addiction. Along with drug usage came toxic relationships with men. I was stealing and lying, my family was disappointed. My world changed though when I had my son, Giovanni. From the first moment I looked at him I knew I had to give him the best, but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even give him a home, I was bouncing around from place to place, I had no stability. I knew I had to get help, and find a way to change my life.

Gio was 3 months old and I was 35 years old when we came to Acres of Hope in the winter of 2017. I wanted to break the cycle of homelessness. I wanted to have enough time to really focus on the things that were causing me to keep going out and be self destructive over and over again. I needed to learn the tools so I could be self sufficient and be less codependent on my family. I've learned at Acres of Hope how to be a mother to my son Gio. I also now know how to be appreciative of the time I am given to spend with my son. I learned to consider thought over emotion that feelings are temporary. I've also learned what its like to have self worth and how important self care is. I learned to have structure in my life. The most important thing I learned is through God I can do all things.

Gio and I now live in our own home. I work full time as a monitor for homeless individuals locating permanent housing. I have come full circle. I use to be the one homeless looking for a place to stay, now I have my own home and I can help others find their way. I just wanted to take a moment and tell you all how much I appreciate what you have done for me and my son. Gio was raised outside of the cycle of homelessness because of you! He said his first words, began to crawl, walk, dance, and have true joy because of you. We have broken the cycle. We are a family of Hope. I will always remind Gio of the kindness of those who support Acres of Hope, and how our lives were changed by the pure love expressed.

Jennifer, An Acres of Hope Alumni

To help change more lives, and break the cycle of homelessness for families like Jennifer’s

Visit: or Call 530-878-8030