Tracy Allen’s first addiction was soccer. She began playing when she was 6 and eventually earned a scholarship to Missouri State University. But in her last year of high school, her mother passed away after abruptly being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Tracy left for college as planned, but she felt a deep emptiness without her mom.
“I think I grew a madness inside of me and I didn’t know how to deal with it,” she describes.
When she came home during the summer after her sophomore year, she unexpectedly got pregnant and decided to stay in Austin and transfer to Austin Community College studying to become an X-ray technician. She and the father of her child split up when their son was very young, but she still had a stable career and home.
“Things were all going well—and then this is where the big mistake comes in,” Tracy remembers.
Tracy took a well-paying travelling position in order to save up for a house back in Austin, and during this time, she entered into a relationship that became abusive. She survived a brutal incident of domestic violence that left her in the hospital for three weeks with a severe concussion and fractured face. Tracy became crippled by fear and depression during this time, and she eventually grew to be addicted to pain medicine. When pain medicine was no longer an option, she turned to heroin to numb her physical and emotional pain.
Tracy’s following three years were filled with drug addiction, unemployment, multiple periods of jail time, and living in her car. “I started to get sick and tired of being sick and tired,” says Tracy of her last visit to jail in 2018, where she began praying for strength.
When she was released, she began catching up on letters and videos her son sent her over the years. She knew she was ready to make changes in her life. Around this time, she received a call from Caritas of Austin.
“It’s great there’s an organization like Caritas of Austin that helps you get back on your feet,” says Tracy. “It’s so hard to move on with your life when you don’t have anything.”
Because of your support, Tracy was able to move into a stable home and get groceries, assistance with transportation, and work clothes. She is now two years sober, happily reunited with her family, employed, and in a supportive, loving relationship. She’s also looking forward to returning to school so she can renew her X-ray technician certification and return to her previous career.
“This program takes you from nothing and helps you start sustaining your life and teaching you how to live,” says Tracy. “It had been so long since I’d even had a place to live or known what it was like to be in a house- how to cook, maintain my time, get to work on time and be a functional member of society. They want you to be able to pay your rent. They want you to go to work. I don’t know where I’d be without Caritas in my life.”
Your generous giving this holiday season allows us to create that same stable foundation and build wellbeing for even more people like Tracy who have experienced the devastation of homelessness. Together, we can end homelessness!