Patricia Jean Lewis was brought up Catholic, but never had a close relationship with God. In her early twenties, she was living in Bristol, CT and working as a waitress. Introduced to a life of addiction by a boyfriend who was a drug user, as well as physically and verbally abusive to her, PJ soon found herself addicted to drugs. To support her habit, PJ turned to selling drugs and stealing. Her life was a complete disaster. Every now and then, PJ tried to get better. She went through a couple of detoxes and thought she had her habit kicked, but couldn’t hold a job, and was arrested on larceny charges. In 2007, PJ came to The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center for the first time. God began to change her life for the better, and good things started to happen. She got back on track and got clean.
When PJ walked away from The Salvation Army, she lost God, and became pregnant. She was in prison for six months, and when released, fell back into old habits – using drugs, lying, cheating and stealing. Eventually, PJ lost custody of her 4 ½ year old daughter. PJ knew she wasn’t going to get better unless she changed her life. Facing nearly ten years in prison, PJ detoxed herself off of heroin and turned herself in. She was released in March of 2014 to The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Hartford. Her mindset was to do the bare minimum and continue her old lifestyle. Having been out of work for years, PJ lacked any set of skills. “I guess my self-image was ruined from the years of drug use and being with a man who physically and mentally abused me,” PJ recalled.
Weary and desperate to find out who she was again, PJ went through The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Program. Each day was a challenge, but each challenge brought her closer to God. Now, PJ is the Fleet Manager for The Salvation Army’s ARC in Hartford. She spends mornings getting drivers out to make house calls, pick-ups, and drop-offs at The Family Stores. She oversees the phone room and dispatchers, and takes care of customers. “I make sure we are doing the most good for the community, because that is our mission,” PJ says. “I couldn’t do the most good anywhere else. This is my home, this is where I belong. This is where I can share God’s story, and shed God’s light on others.”
PJ has been clean for over two years now and recently got a chance to speak with her daughter. “The visit we had couldn’t have been any better. She smiled and was truly happy. All this time, I thought my daughter was a broken little child, but she is happier than she could ever be,” PJ said. “It reminded me that everything I’ve been doing has been on God’s schedule, not mine. I wasn’t ready before, but I am now. It was worth the wait.” “The Salvation Army has been more than a blessing to me. I don’t feel the way I did before – desperate, weary, and useless. God walks with me and has never left me. He’s always been right there, but I was too blind to see it,” said PJ. “The Salvation Army has made me a part of their home, and a part of their family.” PJ is a graduated member of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center’s Redeem Team.
To donate to The Salvation Army’s Family Store, visit SATruck.org or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK today!
The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs) provide spiritual, social, and emotional assistance for men and women who have lost the ability to cope with their problems and provide for themselves.