Sandra Ricks will tell you that she has much to celebrate in this season of her life. For the past four years she has served as a property manager at Samaritan Inns and has enjoyed the many gifts of her 15 years sobriety, not the least of which being her 10 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. But life was not always so full of joy; for 25 years Sandra suffered from the harsh realities of addiction.
“I was addicted to crack cocaine, and I’m a recovering alcoholic. I used for 25 years.”
Addiction charted a course of destruction in Sandra’s life. For 17 years her addiction lead her in and out of the legal system. One day a judge gave her the opportunity to fight for her sobriety. She was offered the chance to choose a recovery program, and that lead her for the first time to Samaritan Inns. She gained her sobriety, but it would not last. She relapsed, and the consequences of that relapse placed her before a different judge but face to face with the same decision. This time, determined to make a change, she went to a treatment program in North Carolina where she gained her sobriety. She began to thrive, even taking on a position as a building manager in a retirement community that was riddled with crime and addiction, bringing the light of her smile and sobriety to a dark place.
Years went by and soon the desire to be in her hometown and nearer to family brought her back to DC. But, after living with her daughter for 6 months, she knew that she needed a stronger network that would support her in maintaining her sobriety. She knew that she needed a second chance at thriving in the same city where she once lost everything.
After 5 days of waiting she was told that she could enter the Affordable Housing Community Program.
“That’s when I first met Jesse [one of the Directors]. He said ‘Only way I’m gonna let you come back here is if you can guarantee that you’ll stay at least a year and give Samaritan Inns a chance to help you get your life in order.” Sandra willingly accepted the opportunity and moved into Tabitha House.
After a good deal of time living in Tabitha’s house, a job announcement for the position of Property Manager at Lazarus House was posted on the board.
“I snatched it down. One of the women came into my room and said ‘you have to put it back up; it’s for everybody.’ So I did. But I prayed I would get the job.” Sandra was positive that the job was what God had for her. “I said…that’s my job. That’s what I am supposed to be doing. That’s what I did when and I was in North Carolina and God told me it was my job.”
Sandra knew that the competition for the position was stiff. But when Sandra went into her interview she remembered her experience in North Carolina. “When I got in that community I changed it. God put me there for a reason. So when I came to this community, I was ready for it.” And she was. She was given the job, moved to Lazarus, and began a career as a property manager with Samaritan Inns.
For the past four years Sandra has been a faithful, responsible, and sober presence at Samaritan Inns. She takes her job very seriously, taking the training and feedback she receives so she is the best at what she does. Her phone is never off; when she enters the building she is at work. But she could not have known that one day, in the same place where she received a second chance, she would extend a true second chance at life to someone else.
“I had a resident, Ms. Jenny, who wrote me up for wrongdoing. I was in the wrong; she was right. But about a month later, I got a phone call at 1:15 in the morning. Her words were slurred; she said “this is Ms. Jenny.” I ran to her room, and she was having a hard time breathing. I dialed 9-1-1. Ms. Jenny grabbed my arm and said “don’t leave me.” She was afraid but I talked her through the process. She had an anxiety attack, and didn’t want any of the paramedics to touch her, but I tried to keep her calm. I just kept talking to her. She stayed at the hospital for three days.”
Later Sandra received a text from Jenny that said “I’m in ICU. You saved my life!”
Samaritan Inns saved Sandra’s life and in turn Sandra saved someone else.
“A lot of things I’ve done in my past is why I am where I am today. It’s what’s made my future. I still have some wounds that haven’t been healed, but God said ‘You have joy overall.”
Now, instead of looking forward to her next drug or drink, Sandra looks forward to seeing her grandchildren grow up.
“My grandchildren are my life. I want to see what type of husbands they’re gonna have, and I want to see their children. I’m living to see that.”