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From living on the streets to serving others
Jeanna Serrano
Jeanna Serrano was recently celebrated at the Turlock Gospel Mission after successfully landing a new job. The Turlock resident credits the organization with helping her get sober and out of homelessness (Photo contributed).

The first time Jeanna Serrano entered Turlock Gospel Mission several years ago, her only concerns were getting a hot meal and a warm place to lay her head for the night. Now, when she enters the shelter her concern is making sure others have those same essentials met and a path to the services that helped get her off the street.

Serrano has been sober for 18 months, has a place to live and has a new job and she credits her turnaround to the help she got through TGM.

“I really don’t have the words to describe what my life feels like now compared to what it was back then,” Serrano said.

Serrano said she had her first drink at the age of 12 and became an alcoholic using crime to support her habit by the time she got out of her teens. Her addiction to alcohol pulled her away from her children and led her to commit crimes that eventually landed her in jail. Once released, she was living on the streets and still struggling to overcome her addiction.

In need of a hot meal and some respite from the day to day struggle, Serrano turned to TGM. It would take a few years, but she finally reached a point where she was ready to accept the help being offered to her. She got into a rehabilitation center and began the work of turning her life in a new direction.

Through her process of recovery, Serrano said she didn’t forget the helping hands at TGM. She began volunteering at the shelter two days a week and was then hired on as a cook in their kitchen. From there, she was promoted to a shelter assistant.

“They were helping me build my work ethic and it was a good reminder for me to stay on the right path,” Serrano said. “I stockpiled the words of encouragement that I received at the Mission so when I feel fear or doubt, I can remind myself that I am capable and strong.”

That newfound self-confidence led Serrano to a new job working at a recycling center in Milpitas. She has reunited with her family and her children and lives with them in Turlock, while still helping out at TGM and trying to reach other individuals struggling with addiction issues.

“If I can pull someone out rather than get pulled in, then it helps me,” Serrano said. “My heart will always be here. I have gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities.”