When you meet Carole S. today, she is beautifully coiffed, made-up and stylishly dressed. She is articulate and warm and tells you how wonderful her life is. She relates that she has led a full life, but you would never suspect how full it has been. As a child she had been abused and molested by family members, regularly cut herself, run away from school and had her first child at sixteen; she abused alcohol and drugs for many years, lived on skid row, attempted suicide more than once, was married and divorced several times, and had been in and out of mental hospitals.

In 1976 Carole was in Harbor General Hospital’s psychiatric ward. In the past, mental hospitals had always been a safe place for her, a place where she could be medicated, drink and escape (in the early 1970s doctors rarely considered alcohol an issue). For the first time, a nurse suggested that alcoholism was her core problem and recommended AA. Members from local AA groups had just begun visiting hospitals, talking with patients about alcoholism. Carole remembers two who came to the hospital. One, Mary Jane, was a counselor from House of Hope. Listening to them, Carole began to realize that she had no other solution, that only God could help her. Concurrently, Carole read an article that appeared in The Daily Breeze which discussed alcoholism and treatment centers, and specifically mentioned House of Hope. This opened the door for Mary Jane to bring her here.

Carole especially remembers the love and comfort she received during the 1½ years she stayed at the House. The director told her she was broken, but that she would be safe here. At that time the program was small but robust, with only eight residents. They went to AA meetings and volunteered at HOH’s local thrift shop. That Christmas Carole was able see her kids who had been taken away from her. She was cautioned it would take a long time to recover after 20 years of drugging and drinking, but she stuck with the program and got well.

On her own again, Carole finished high school and took on different jobs, but she always stayed close to AA. She became director of a sober-living house, continued to be active in the program and married a fellow alcoholic. When she and her new husband later moved to Arizona, they started an AA club there, and then another one in Iowa when they moved again. Over the years she has sponsored many women.

Carole’s 40-plus years of sobriety have not always been easy. Family relationships have often been rocky. Her daughter died of cirrhosis, and in 2012 her husband died. Early in her sobriety, doctors discovered Carole had a brain tumor. A woman had once urged her “just not to drink today,” which Carole says has been a 24-hour song, a song she still sings despite more recent recurrences of the tumor.

Last June Carole moved back to San Pedro to be close to HOH because, as she says, “This is where my sobriety began, and this is where I can pass on the gifts I first received.” You can see her at local AA meetings. Look for this proud grandmother of seven (and a great-grandmother too!) who is grateful that none of these children have ever seen her drunk.


Although the structure of the programs provided by House of Hope has changed and evolved over the years, the face of addiction has not. Nicole epitomizes the success of the modern client of House of Hope. Like so many of the women who came before her, she arrived here broken. Today she has a positive self-image, concrete goals and the tools to achieve them. She is ready to meet the challenges of life and recovery.

Nicole’s story is a familiar one. She began drinking at age eleven, progressing to pot and crystal meth at age fourteen. In the ninth grade she dropped out of high school and left home. Five years later she had a baby. With the child care and support her family provided, she managed to find work as an occupational therapist aide but drinking and drugs were her constant companions. Her usage only increased and at the end of 2017 she lost her job. Nicole was desperate. She considered coming to HOH having known of it through a family friend who had been helped there. However, she felt she wasn’t quite ready. A few months later she assaulted her step-father and was threatened with prison. Fortunately, the judge released her to House of Hope. This time she knew she was ready.

Nicole moved into the House in January 2018 for the 90-day residential program. She entered a very structured program with chores, meetings, rules and “group, group, group.” She accepted everything she was told about her alcoholism, especially that her addiction is a lifetime disease. She promptly got an AA sponsor. When the three-month program ended, Nicole knew she needed additional treatment. She requested placement and was accepted into the new Residential Bridge Housing (RBH) program, which she says “was an honor and a privilege.” While in RBH, she started working, began to save money and create a future for herself and her daughter. The court system “blessed” her with probation. Three months later, she moved to our Sober Living program, where she was given even greater freedom and less structure.

What has Nicole learned from HOH? She has learned to take contrary actions such as going to a meeting even though she feels tired. She has learned time management skills which she especially needs today since she is juggling two jobs. She has learned to focus on the present rather than get too caught up in the future. Her current goals are to live independently with her daughter, now in high school, and to get her criminal record expunged so she can return to a career in occupational therapy. She has also learned to be of service by mentoring other women at HOH.

Today Nicole says she is blessed; her life is full of gratitude. “HOH is not a program that you just go through and leave,” she says. “You never want to let it go.”


As a non-profit, House of Hope relies greatly on the support and generosity that comes through various individuals, organizations, and grants. Helping our women recover from the ravages of their addiction is the mission of House of Hope.