In Her Own Words: Emily’s Story

A note from the Founder:
In December of 2012, I attended a Women’s event at Valley Christian Church. That night I heard a young woman from the Walter Hoving Home speak about her journey through addiction to recovery. Her story completely changed my understanding of addiction. I’m ashamed to admit that I thought addiction was a just another bad choice, made by irresponsible people. I had no idea that the average age for first time use of illegal drugs is 14, and for alcohol is 12. 

Hearing Emily’s story completed shifted my understanding of addiction and caused me to become an advocate for women in recovery. I am now committed to fighting alongside to help them to realize their potential, work from their strengths, and maintain lifelong sobriety.

Emily is now the Director of Operations for Unshattered. She runs our business office, is the talent behind our product listings, and is a voice of hope for other women in recovery throughout the country. Here is her story in her own words:

To this day I can remember the first day I arrived at the Hoving Home, arriving in New York during a bitterly cold night of February. Between the chills of the North and my body temperature trying to regulate from being off of drugs for 48 hours, I just couldn’t get warm. Shooing away my brother as quickly as possible in order not to have the urge to leave, I stepped through the doors of the aged mansion and I knew that I had made it to the sanctuary God had called me to. I didn’t yet realize a Holy place was what I needed.

Let me rewind, it all began one day when I was 8 years old. A friend’s brother thought it would be funny for us to try smoking pot for the first time. That was the day that from then on making life decisions would become difficult. That day I got a taste of an escape from the world I was facing and my first chance to not have to deal with my emotions I experienced as a result of life’s challenges. At 8, I was struggling with the fact my Mom was sick and the additional stresses that were brought into my life as I became the caretaker for her, myself, and my brother.

By the age of 16 I was a drug addict, and by 19 years old an IV drug user. The one thing I said I would never do, I did.

There is this absolutely beautiful town in Florida called Lake Mary. There was a three story apartment building there that I stayed at frequently, but this time was different.  I can still recall the smell and the day just as if it happened yesterday. When you walked into the apartment on the left-hand side was the master bedroom, from there you could walk into the master bathroom. That’s the bathroom where it all happened. My emotions were out of control and I just didn’t want to feel that day. Already on an excessive amount of opiates that I was using in order to not experience withdraw, I decided to shoot up as much cocaine as I could in one shot. Later, I was told that it was so strong that you could smell it outside of the front door of the apartment. That shot knocked me out. I woke up face down with carpet burn on my cheeks and realized that I had overdosed for the first time. It is an absolute miracle that I lived through it – not only did I overdose, but I had a seizure due to the quantity of substances in my system. There’s a song quote I have tattooed on my forearms during my addiction that says “There’s nothing you can do that I haven’t already done to myself.” I really believed I was my own worst enemy. It would take another 6 years for me to decide I needed help and was ready to begin my journey to New York.

The Hoving Home has been a blessing for me by providing the firm place to stand that God refers to in Psalm 40:2. “He lifted me out of the slimey pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” I desperately needed a firm place to stand.

In March of 2012, I came to know the Lord and the years since then have been a journey. In the midst of both hardships and great accomplishments, I’ve managed to stay clean from drugs and alcohol for over 5 years. In August of 2016 I married an amazing man. I bought a house with my husband, I have my mom living close to me, and I am involved with a local church. During 3 ½ of those years I was blessed with the opportunity of working at the Hoving Home.

This spring I had the opportunity to come work for Unshattered as Director of Operations and I jumped on the offer. Unshattered is a nonprofit that partners with Hoving Home Teen Challenge and we make handbags and other textile products out of repurposed items and other high-quality, donated materials. Unshattered’s net profit goes back to the Hoving Home and we hire women who have completed the program. Unshattered provides the opportunity for a career based on ability and potential when most of us bring only a history of bad decision making.

I am forever grateful to the Hoving Home Teen Challenge for literally giving me the chance to get to know the Lord and helping me grow in Him. This has changed my outlook forever and helped me to realize that God is the one who really changed me and continues to sustain me daily.



When you buy a bag from Unshattered you help us employ women like Emily, and provide a lifesaving opportunity for recovery from addiction at the Walter Hoving Home where Emily, and many others like her, found freedom from addiction.