Marie Turner had everything
she could want. She had more money than she knew how to spend, three children,
a job she loved and a lot of free time.
"I just had too much
money and not enough to do," Turner said. "Then, my stepmother
introduced me to crack cocaine."
It was a textbook case of
addict behavior after that — she was evicted, bill collectors began
calling and her children's father took the kids with him to Indianapolis.
"After about three months of
living in Columbus (Indiana) without my kids, I was going crazy," Turner
said. "I decided with my boyfriend to move to Indy. I didn't have any
place else to go. So, we came here."
Turner and her boyfriend
lived on the streets for a few days in Indianapolis before chancing upon an
encampment of other homeless people on White River Parkway.
"They let us stay
there," Turner said. "We were a big happy family."
After a few nights in the
camp, Turner and the others had a surprise visit during the night.
"It was snowing and cold
and they scared us to death," she recalled.
The visitors were two
outreach workers from Horizon House.
"They sat with us and
offered us food and water. They introduced us to Horizon House and said we
could come there and take care of some of our needs. We all went to the Horizon
House the next morning and started utilizing their services."
She continued to live on the
streets and feed her addiction for another year after that night.
Horizon House eventually
helped Turner find a job in a factory. She saved enough money after a few
months to afford a car and an apartment. Turner took six others from the camp
with her to her new place.
"I was fighting my
addiction at the time," Turner said. "Unfortunately, my friends
wanted to continue their struggle. So, my friends and I, we parted our ways. I
got my kids back. I got everything back on track."
Turner worked various jobs
over the next few years. She was clean, had money and, most importantly to her,
she had her kids again.
Years after her first
encounter with Horizon House, Turner heard about a job opening there.
"I went in and
interviewed," she said. "I actually started crying in the interview
and told them how much it would mean to me. Had it not been for Horizon House
that night I could've died. Anything could've happened."
Turner now does the same job as
the people who found her that night. She's an outreach worker in addition to
working the front desk some days. She also volunteers to be on call one week a
month to be notified by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department if they
find someone who is identified as homeless.
"I've been on both sides
of the desk (at Horizon House) and it sucks," she said. "You can't
imagine what someone has to go through to sleep outside — gather your
belongings, get up off the freezing-cold concrete. Everybody's situation is
completely different. Because they're homeless they're not crazy or have a drug
problem. They're people."