A life transformed

Rosalind Williams went from drugs to redemption

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

FAIRFIELD - After years of being homeless and living a life of pained memories, Rosalind Williams is surrendering herself and moving forward.

The woman with an impressionable smile speaks of herself with confidence and clearly recognizes her past mistakes.

She was raised in Oakland, left home at 15 and one year later became pregnant. Soon after her son was born, she moved out and began 'hanging with the wrong crowd.'

Williams, in her scratchy voice, admits to having used drugs lightly at the time but the addiction became worse as time progressed, taking the young woman to a higher level of drugs.

'Everything glittery-looking was like gold to me at the time, but it really wasnt,' the 49-year-old woman said.

Eventually, after Williams older sister became her sons caregiver, she was 'out there on streets, stealing, writing checks that were no good and learning how to get into cars.'

'Whatever it was that I could do to get extra money I did,' she confessed. 'And then I got arrested.'

For decades, her story recycled, traveling from life on the streets, to jail and ending at various in-house programs.

More than a year ago, she was diagnosed with a heart valve infection and after being in the hospital found her way to Heather House. This time, she said with tears, she was surrendering herself for a better life.

'I have surrendered to the process of the ways, to the people , to being humble, to being understanding and I am surrendering all the way around,' she said. 'I feel this in my heart. I never felt it before in my heart and I thank God for the Heather House.'

Her stay at Heather House a homeless shelter for families and single women lasted 119 days, she said. Subsequently, Williams moved into an apartment and is now reunited with her husband.

In less than two weeks, Williams will have been clean and sober for one year.

'Heather House was there to let me know that I am worthy of loving myself and that by doing all these things, its all for me, not for them,' she said as she cried.

The Award

Williams now volunteers at Heather House, teaching life-skills classes to current clients, and recently, was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for the Interfaith Council of Solano County. And she has come full circle.

For this reason, Community Action Partnership of Solano County recognized Williams with the Sgt. Shriver Award last week, a first for CAP Solano. The award honors a client who has changed his or her life, achieved economic sufficiency with assistance of an agency and has contributed to improving their community through advocacy, volunteerism, public service or some other vehicle.

'She has overcome so many obstacles, from her choices of drug abuse to losing her child. Now shes giving back to Heather House and contacting people she used to hang with and having them see her improvements and showing them it can be done,' said P.J. Davis of CAP Solano. 'She has this light in her eyes that had been missing and its infectious. Shes on a mission and I can see it on her face.'

Mayor Harry Price, who presented Williams with the award, was impressed with Willams determination to work hard and overcome the obstacles of her past. And he can see a genuine desire to better her life.

Its a reflection of the work of Heather House and its director, Linda Mahoney, he said.

'They help people make those necessary adjustments in their lifestyles so they can become productive citizens again,' he said. 'I admire what Linda and her staff do. They affect a different person one day at a time throughout the city of Fairfield.'

As for Mahoney, she couldnt be prouder of Williams.

'Thats what were hoping for, for individuals to get their lives back on track so they can turn around and help others,' she said.

Williams received a briefcase and certificate. Three other nominees also each received certificates plus Cross pens. As the nominating agent, Heather House received $600 from CAP Solano.

Williams application, representing Solano County, will go into a pool of nominations for the national Sergeant Shrivers Award to be given out in late August in San Diego.