From addiction to sobriety; from prison to freedom; Robyn found hope for tomorrow at House of Promise Sunnyslope (HPS).
May 23, 2018: “One year ago today I walked out the prison gates for the second & last time. This past year has been nothing but one blessing after another. God has shown me what life, love & friendship truly is. I am so very blessed to live the life I live today. Sobriety is AMAZING!” ~ Robyn’s Facebook Post
What landed her in prison
Robyn was lost and broken in the midst of addiction to prescription drugs. This led to forging prescriptions to have what she needed.
“Why go to the doctor when I can do it myself! It worked for a while… until it didn’t work.”
Sentenced to 1 year in 2012, she got out in 6 months for good behavior and thought that it was over — no more drugs, she’d stay clean. However, 6 months later, she fell into addiction again. Her probation was revoked and she was sentenced to another 2.75 years.
During her first stint in prison — which she says was “easy” — she had support from her parents. They wrote her and visited often. This was not the case the second time, they chose tough love. They were brokenhearted and they didn’t want to go through the same thing again. Robyn was by herself — dealing with everything by herself. She didn’t want to do parole again, so she decided to to stay for her full sentence.
But God had other plans…
During her prison time Robyn had the opportunity to become part of the first group in a new pilot program started by Gov. Doug Ducey. She became part of the Inmate Education Program. She didn’t have much hope for a better job other than waitressing or bartending. She began to grow and learned that there are second chances out there.
When she was ready to leave prison, she applied to several halfway houses and was accepted to all of them, but nothing in her heart felt right. A friend told her about House of Refuge Sunnyslope, a place she had not heard of before. With a step of faith, she filled out the long application and read through all the rules. As she waited for a response, she kept seeing “signs” everywhere saying “hope”, “promise” and “refuge”. She knew that if she was accepted this is where she would go. When released, her stepdad drove her to HRS. She was scared.
“This isn’t for me. I’m not going in. I can’t do this.”
Her stepdad said, “Look at this place! You can feel the safety in it.”
She still didn’t feel like she belonged here. She walked into the dining area and a volunteer, Nancy, assured her, “It’s going to be OK.”
As she sat in the Women’s Program Manager’s office, it felt like home. She told Robyn her story — how she had been in prison and what God had done in her life. Robyn realized that…
“I wasn’t going to be judged for having tattoos, I wasn’t going to be judged for being in prison. I wasn’t going to be judged because my son doesn’t live with me… you just felt the love.”
This meeting made Robyn realize that someone who had been in prison could hold a position of authority, some of the teachings of the Inmate Education Program.
She couldn’t believe the embrace of House of Promise and how different it was from the other “gross” halfway houses she’d been in.
“You feel so blessed! I knew that this is where I wanted to be.”
At the House of Promise program, she found the support, planning and direction that she needed.
She was raised in the church, but she didn’t really know God until this program.
“Even when things go wrong, I can honestly say that I am hopeful for tomorrow, because I’ve seen God work His way even when I didn’t realize it.”
She looks back and sees how God pulled her out of tough times.
Building a New Life
Robyn has accomplished much. Through HRS, she was able to buy her first car (pictured above), she found an office job using her new skills, and she took on the additional responsibility of being the House of Promise Night Manager. Most importantly, she has a good relationship with her mom and stepdad AND has started to rebuild a relationship with her 14 year old son.
Even though she’s been through a lot of changes in HRS, Robyn says that one thing has always stayed true — the love of God.
“The fact that you can come in here broken down, share your struggles with the staff, and the love doesn’t waiver. I’ve always felt like I am wanted here. That’s hard for me because I’ve always been the black sheep… the love here is just amazing.”
Robyn graduates from the House of Promise program this fall and is currently looking for an apartment in the central Phoenix area. She wants to stay close to her “family”. She’s nervous because she’s never had an apartment with her own belongings that she’s been able to keep. She’s looking forward to settling down and stop the bouncing around. She knows that her new community will support her and the love of God will direct her steps. Please join us in prayer for her as she finishes the program and sets out on her own – we are confident she will do well.
Her favorite Bible verse? She has 2:
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7
“He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.” Psalm 107:14
She is amazed:
“How amazing is this! God literally took me out of darkness, from the brink of death, and literally broke my chains. This couldn’t be more fitting for my life.”