Jacqulyn just started a new job as a server at Inspiration Kitchens – Uptown in October. She is currently homeless, living at the women’s shelter at Cornerstone, but feels like she is turning a corner in her life.  “I’m a very positive person,” she says.

Drugs and addiction have been the controlling elements of Jacqulyn’s life for many years. She was introduced to drugs as a 16-year old when she tried marijuana for the first time. As a newlywed working two jobs that kept her away from home (she was a flight attendant for 20 years), Jacqulyn felt depressed and turned to various drugs to add excitement to her life.  “I did a lot of this out of boredom,” she said.

 Jacqulyn tried freebasing crack-cocaine for the first time after moving to Chicago in 1979 and was immediately addicted. The new drug started a downward spiral.

 She spent some time in prison, lost her job, and struggled to break free of the cycle of addiction. At one point in the early 2000s she stayed clean for four years, but the allure of the drug would eventually draw her back in.  She struggled to find and keep work and slowly lost her ability to hang onto a normal life.

When Jacqulyn first came to Inspiration Corporation, “It was just a meal ticket.”  She had heard that the organization offered free breakfasts and dinners and came in to take advantage. The first time she talked to a staff member about the Employment Services program and what she would have to do to be eligible for meals, she walked out.

 Eventually, she decided to come back and, “Go through the motions,” to get into the meals program.  Jacqulyn went through employment preparation training begrudgingly, but began to appreciate the course in the later weeks.  “It revealed to myself who I am and what I have to offer.”

Following graduation Jacqulyn continued to struggle with her addiction and her inability to pass drug tests kept her from finding a job and moving forward.  Eventually, her career specialist recognized that Jacqulyn’s customer service experience made her a good fit for an opening for a server position at Inspiration Kitchens – Uptown. She is currently clean from using drugs and has been for almost a year.

“When reviewing my past, present, future and pondering my future with Inspiration, this quotation from Hellen Keller comes to mind.  It’s my favorite:  ‘Often times a door closes in one’s life, and you then focus on the closed door, not realizing that another has already opened.’”