Follow along with us as we take a peek into the lives of four women in different stages of their journey through Saint John’s program. You’ll learn how each story reflects the immense courage it takes to persevere for Real Change.
Terresa E.
Three Weeks at Saint John's
Terresa walked through the Red Doors of Saint John’s, April 21, 2021. She is still trying to make sense of what brought her to this point and what it will take to move forward. When asked what life was like before coming to Saint John’s, Terresa summed up her life with one word, “Horrible!” As she began to elaborate on what she meant, her eyes filled with tears, the emotion of it all spilling out. Three years ago her husband died and drugs became her coping mechanism. As a result, she lost her job and her home in the same day and spent the next few years homeless. Referred to Saint John’s by a friend, she thought, “What do I have to lose?”

The biggest adjustment for Terresa has been the shared living space with three other women and just being with other people all of the time. Her life was one of solitude, and learning to be around other people is an enormous challenge for her right now. She’s very direct when she says, “It’s hard being here and I want to stay, and I hope I stick it out. But it’s just hard right now.” Thus far, the relational class has been the most helpful to Terresa as she navigates group living and getting to know complete strangers. Learning to trust others and be part of the community does not come easy for her.

Terresa has a large family presence in Sacramento, including her 30 year old daughter and two grandchildren. They are all very supportive of Terresa as she strives for a new beginning and a hopeful future. We’re all pulling for her to succeed!
Marisol R.
Nine Months at Saint John's
By her own admittance, Marisol lived a very sheltered life growing up, and she was not allowed to join in regular activities with friends her age. However, by the age of 20, Marisol had a baby and found herself house hopping to keep off the streets. This type of existence was not conducive to holding a job and so the cycle continued. In November of 2020, Marisol arrived at Saint John’s with her one-year old son, Ezra. As she reflected, “Walking through the Red Doors gave me a chance at independence, to become an adult. I turned 21 here at Saint John’s!”

When Marisol first arrived, she didn’t know what she needed or even wanted. Today, she’s diligently working her way through the program and now nearing the completion of her hands-on employment training with new goals coming into focus. Marisol wants to graduate from Saint John’s and plans to apply to live in Saint John’s Square, find a job as a caregiver and purchase a car. Her goal is to be independent in order to take care of herself and her son, Ezra.
Frida R.
Nearing Graduation, Eleven Months at Saint John's
Frida had been living in her car for a year when she discovered Saint John’s. She’d given birth to a daughter who tested positive for the drugs she had been taking while pregnant. As part of an agreement with CPS, Frida signed over temporary guardianship of her daughter to her father and stepmother and began her journey towards sobriety and self-sustainability. Her first stop was Bridges Professional Treatment Services and then on to Alpha Oaks for 90 days. It was while at Alpha Oaks that she heard about Saint John’s and in June of 2020, she showed up ready to experience Real Change in her life. When asked what it meant to walk through the Red Doors for the first time, Frida replied, “It was a new beginning for me, a do-over. I had no education about addiction or where to even begin to live without drugs. I found that here at Saint John’s, and now I have a plan that’s working for me.”

Frida is also quick to say it hasn’t been easy (life never is, right?), and she’s wanted to quit many times. But she’s persevered through the challenging parts and can often be heard sharing words of encouragement to other women in the program to not give up.

The greatest challenge Frida faced when starting the program was to follow a schedule. As she’d previously lived life as it came, she had no concept of what it meant to create a schedule and stick with it. However, the discipline of living with a schedule has paid off in big ways as Frida was recently hired by UC Davis Medical Center, working in Environmental Services. Now that Frida is gainfully employed, the next step is housing. She has applied to live in Saint John’s Square and is hoping to have her 1 year-old daughter join her. When asked why Saint John’s Square was so important to her, she didn’t hesitate to say, “I’ve never lived on my own before. I need to practice paying bills, grocery shopping, preparing meals, all of the normal life skills I missed on my way to becoming a mom.”

Frida is only five credits away from completing her high school diploma and is excited for continued education as her transformative journey moves forward. Frida sums up her time at Saint John’s saying, “I’m just so proud of all the things I've done here!”
Jennifer R.
Saint John's Alumna, Class of 2017
Before coming to Saint John’s, Jennifer was a single mom trying her best to provide for her children. She had a variety of jobs, but holding one was difficult without transportation and childcare. Jennifer tried working from home providing childcare, but at the same time she was coping with PTSD and anxiety by drinking and smoking marijuana daily. In October of 2011, her life began to spiral after her youngest son was stabbed. The trauma associated with that attack coupled with the cumulative effects of growing up in poverty, violence and drugs, found Jennifer overtaken by depression. She was living in her car, hotels and with any friend who would let her sleep on their couch. Eating most of her meals at Loaves and Fishes, she found out about Saint John’s while at Mary House and decided to make the call.

While reflecting on her time at Saint John’s this week, Jennifer said, “My life was transformed when I was accepted into Saint John’s program. I finally received the help that I needed – the therapy, healthy living classes, case management, structured support, drug and alcohol classes – it all contributed to my sobriety. The vocational classes like computers and money management prepared me for a better job.” She graduated from Saint John’s in 2017, has been clean and sober for 5 years, and in her current job as a property manager for 4 ½ years. She acknowledges, “Saint John’s gave me the tools I needed to succeed. They gave me the courage to believe in myself and that it’s ok to ask for and get the help you need to be a productive citizen.”

Jennifer didn’t just graduate and move on with her life. She’s all about giving back by encouraging and empowering women who are currently at Saint John’s. As a Saint John’s Alumnae board member, she’s a role model to other women in the program and a strong example of how life can and will change if they really want it and are willing to work, taking their journey one day at a time. Above all else, she wants the women at Saint John’s to know they are not alone on this new journey; that she’s there for them, lending her support – always!
We were blown away and so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from our community on Big Day of Giving! Thanks to our generous supporters we raised over $152,000 (doubling our fundraising goal) to support the women and children at Saint John’s!! This is incredible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
As part of Big Day of Giving, funds raised will help support the furnishings, landscaping and programming needed for our brand new community, Saint John’s Square. Saint John’s Square is a new transitional housing community of 11 homes on the Saint John’s campus, designed to house up to 55 women and children and provide residents with a lived experience in running and maintaining a household to help better prepare them for independence. Each two-bedroom, one-bath unit will be used as interim shared living for individuals, smaller families, or as single-family home for larger families. Construction should be complete in the next few weeks. However, we do have one home ready to view now. If you’d like stop by for a tour, please let us know at and we’d be happy to show you around. Click here to learn more about in-kind needs and sponsorship opportunities for Saint John’s Square. 
Pretty on the Inside is an event hosted by a fantastic group of women in Sacramento for Saint John’s twice a year. Pretty on the Inside has been coming to Saint John’s since 1998, to celebrate the deep inner beauty which makes each woman at Saint John’s special and unique. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, they have not been on our campus since October 2019, and they were greatly missed. Thankfully, all of that changed when an army of women showed up on our campus May 1 for an inspiring program. Almost every resident was in attendance. Each woman was given a new purse full of goodies and enjoyed a special lunch. Pretty on the Inside is coming back in October for a full day of beauty including: hair, makeup and nails! Thank you Pretty on the Inside for all you do to love and celebrate the women at Saint John’s. You make such a difference here.
Our dedicated volunteers continue to bring their time and talents to our campus! We appreciate their presence and the vital support. We recently hosted volunteer groups from United Way, Amazon and Fremont Presbyterian Church. If you haven’t volunteered this year, we’d love to have you back! In case you’re not familiar with our new online volunteer management program CERVIS, please follow this link, to create a profile and get signed up for volunteer opportunities. If you’ve already created a profile, you can sign up for a volunteer shift here: Saint John's Volunteer Portal
PARTY FOR CHANGE - October 16,2021
Party for Change will be our only major fundraising event this year. This elegant black tie soiree will feature fabulous cuisine and wine, music by Las Vegas DJ E-Noc, dance and aerialist performances by the Sacramento Contemporary Dance Theatre, a fantastic live auction and more! For sponsorship opportunities, reach out to Sasha Wirth or Bethany Knudsen at
Today is the perfect day to support Real Change
Every week I get the chance to experience joy from our residents.
One of the best parts of my week is attending our “community meeting” with our residents. The meeting, held every day, is a casual opportunity for the women to share information with each other. Over the last month, I witnessed the pure joy from two women, Beyance and Sandra. Both women achieved a goal of becoming a “dream builder” - a month’s worth of achievements (like getting a primary care doctor and health insurance). Their joy comes from accomplishment and for some, it’s the first time ever they’ve made a commitment to themselves.
As I’ve gotten to know both women, I’ve spent hours listening and trying to understand their very difficult journeys leading to Saint John’s. And, what they’ve taught me is that making change through Saint John’s is about doing nearly everything different than what they’ve learned from their past 20+ years. I can’t imagine what it’s like to do EVERYTHING different and reject my daily routines and past lessons from the last 20 years, let alone the last 5 years. Clearly, the changes they make are far greater than I can ever imagine. And for that, I am able to come closer to understanding their joy.

With greatest gratitude,
For more information, please contact

Saint John's Program for Real Change
Nonprofit, 501(c)(3)
Tax ID: 68-0132934