A Will to Survive – Overcoming Homelessness and Addiction in Charleston

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On many fronts, Sharon Pendleton is a survivor!

“So I got to the point where I said, it’s either die or try, and that’s when I came here,” stated Pendleton.

She found the help she needed at the YWCA Sojourner Shelter for Homeless Women and Families.

“My story starts off, the typical one that leads you to homelessness, the drug addiction or the abusive relationships,” exclaimed Pendleton. “When I came to Sojourners, I was really down on my luck, really suicidal. The only reason I didn’t commit suicide was because of my children.”

Sharon was the youngest of seven and grew up with a single mom who worked full time to support her children. But Sharon looked for her father’s love elsewhere. 

“At a very young age, I ran away from home and started running the streets of Charleston,” said Pendleton. “And due to that, at the age of 14-1/2, I met a guy and he ended up shooting me and these are the scars I bear today. He shot me with a sawed off doubled barreled shot gun at point blank range.”

Looking back, Sharon says it’s hard for even her to believe that surviving that horrific attack wasn’t enough to keep her clean and sober.

“I took off again and began hanging out with older friends and smoking pot,” she said. “And one thing lead to another. We would drink and then trying acid and intravenous drugs, whatever we could get our hands on.”

It took many more years for Sharon to reach rock bottom, sleeping in abandoned home at night. Missing her children finally led her to Sojourners.

“When I walked through the doors I said, can I get a bed and just get in bed and go to sleep,” Pendleton added. “I just wanted to sleep and have a good night’s rest. It doesn’t quite work like that.”

Because, the shelter provides and requires certain programs and something else Sharon had been missing in her life, structure.

“I finished my GED and kept on going to the readiness center,” she said. “I found an apartment and moved out of here. I kept going to my meetings and doing what I needed to do. I landed a job at embassy suites I’ve been there 13-1/2 years.”

And, she also found a higher power. One that gave her true joy in her life.

“I gave my life to Christ Jesus,” she exclaimed. “It’s not religion, it’s a relationship. He’s a God of forgiveness and love and he has a plan and the desire to see us do good. And, it won’t be easy but he will give you strength to get thru it.”

Today, Sharon is 15-1/2 years clean and is thankful to have her children and grandchildren in her life. She is now a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity. And, she volunteers with the same groups like Sojourners who helped her by freely sharing her message with others struggling with abuse or addiction.

“Whatever your problem is, no matter how big or how small, a drink or drug is not going to help,” Sharon exclaimed. “Because, one is too many and a thousand are never enough!”

You can help women like Sharon by supporting the YWCA Sojourner shelter for homeless women and families at this year’s Guys Night Out Event:

Save the date – Great fun for a serious cause!

Guys Night Out is October, 13, 2018 at Oakes Field, South Charleston

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