About 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve in 2009, just released after a 13-year prison term, Alicia arrived at Providence House V. “The very first thing they did when I got there was give me a present,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t looking forward to anything.”

“Sister Pat Mahoney said to me ‘Come on, just sit with me. Let’s eat something. Let me make you a cup of tea.’ I sat down and I just talked. And Sister Pat listened.”

Alicia told of her childhood in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood, with conflict and strained relationships at home. “By age nine, I did what I wanted,” she said. “I was in and out of jail. I was in gangs. I ran away from home and just ran the streets recklessly.”

Later, after her father’s death, her mother moved upstate with Alicia’s twin girls. Alicia stayed in the city. Her life on the streets intensified, leading to a drug conviction and prison.

Alicia was troubled about how to write the next chapter of her life. She soon found at Providence House a supportive community of staff, residents, and sisters who both challenged and encouraged her to grow. “They did everything to make me feel like I could do this,” she said.

Alicia worked with staff to meet parole requirements and adjust to life on the outside. She grew in confidence, started working, and saved her pay. After a year with us, she moved into her own apartment. It hasn’t always been easy, and there was a period when Alicia was unemployed—but she held fast. She’s working and still living independently. Along the way, she paid off some debts and completed her parole. And she’s enjoying a closer, better relationship with her family—especially her daughters.