Stories of Hope–Homeless Addict to Hopeful Advocate
“As a drug addict, I’ve been in some incredibly dark places, so even my worst days now are better than the best days when I was using drugs.”
Rae Barker is grateful to be 22 years old with her whole life ahead of her. “I hit my rock bottom early,” she explains. “So many people are lost for so many years.”
But her journey out of darkness didn’t happen overnight. “Her mother and I had no idea the extent of her addiction in high school,” says Phil Barker, Rae’s father. “She’s so brilliant and so talented, she could hide it all. Being an actress, she could show anybody any face she wanted, and she did.”
Rae was so good at hiding her addiction that she won a state Forensics championship as a student at Salem High School. But despite her academic success, she dropped out of Virginia Western Community College as her addiction consumed her.
When her parents finally convinced her to enter a 45-day treatment program, “I did it for them,” Rae says. “I wasn’t doing it for me, and it broke their hearts but after five months I relapsed. I ended up homeless. I was in Richmond without a place to stay and running from an abusive relationship.”
“For two years she was in Richmond and we had no way to contact her, no way to have any interaction at all,” says Phil. “I was afraid she was just gone. She has no idea how a parent suffers being in that position. I had to simply disconnect and turn it over to God.”
God intervened, Rae says, when she entered a Dwelling Place Church ministry tent at the FloydFest music festival. They convinced her to return to Roanoke, where she landed in the hospital. “I realized then I needed a long-term program, and it turned out the Rescue Mission’s intake was the very next day.”
During her program at the Mission, Rae became involved with the Roanoke Valley HOPE Initiative which combats the opioid crisis by guiding each addict towards treatment. It has allowed her to put her award-winning public speaking skills from high school to good use. “I’m advocating for more opportunities for treatment and more opportunities for immediate help,” she says, “especially for people like me who have no money and no insurance.”
She has had the ear of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, and shared her story in high schools around the valley. She has even re-enrolled in college, and plans to pursue a career in special education.
“I feel healthy, my mind is back to being sharp, and I have so much hope for the future,” she smiles. “As long as my life is devoted to God and giving back to other people, that’s all I can hope for.”
“I’m so thankful for this Rescue Mission,” says Phil. “I’ve got my daughter back. It’s a gift from God to have her back.”
Thanks to the employee owners of Plastics One, your gift to the Rescue Mission during the month of December is DOUBLED! Double your gift this month to help others fighting to overcome addiction find help and hope this Christmas.