HARTFORD -- PJ Lewis finds purpose working at Hartford’s Salvation Army.
From the loading docks to the dispatch center, the Killingworth mom coordinates the organization’s donations across Connecticut.
“What don’t I love? I think it is great to help people everyday,” she says.
But for a long time she was the one who needed help. “I was a heroin addict, I did cocaine, I sold drugs, I lived on the street,” says Lewis.
The 34-year-old says she spent years in an abusive relationship, got hooked on drugs, was arrested, and lost custody of her daughter. Lewis knew she needed help.
“I had to make a change and that change started at the Salvation Army."
Lewis checked herself into the organization’s Adult Rehabilitation Center on Homestead Ave. It’s a place that houses about 100 people at a time battling addiction – and one she had been before.
Captain Leo Lloyd is part of the team that helped Lewis kick the drugs with support services and a daily routine.
“The thing that is really unique is that whatever the chaos was before, that changes. From day one we ask people to live a normal life, So they come in and they have to get up at 6:30 in the morning and wash their face and hands go to breakfast and show up at work at 7:30.” explains Lloyd.
Lewis says that over the following year, her faith in God also played a large role in getting clean.
“I hope that other women that have gone through similar experiences can understand that it is possible no matter how hard you think it is.”
Today, Lewis is working at the same place she credits with saving her life. She's also back with her daughter and is about to get married and become a stepmom.
Lewis told Fox 61 Morning Anchor Keith McGilvery what gives her hope:
“The future, and not having to live in my past anymore, what gives me hope is, the fight that I had is no longer there and I know that I can do it, I know that I can get through it."
The rehab program at the Salvation Army isn’t cheap, the organization processes and sells more than 100,000 pounds of clothes and 1000 pieces of furniture every week to help pay for the more than $6 million a year it costs to help get clients like Lewis get back on their feet.