June 7, 2024

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

‘Homeless and without hope,’ couple turns to Catholic Charities

David Bethuram

As a young girl, Andrea was active in sports and served as a youth leader at her church. However, at about 14 years old, she began experimenting with drugs, leading to addiction and distancing herself from her previous life. By the age of 17, she was using meth and heroin. Yet this is her story of hope.

Andrea married at 18 and got clean when she became pregnant with her first child. Two years later, she had a second child. When her husband lost his job, the stress became overwhelming, and they started using drugs together, which led to violence in their relationship.

Andrea was accused of domestic violence by her husband and arrested, but the charges were dropped. However, her children were placed under their grandmother’s guardianship. On their son’s second birthday, her husband left the family. Andrea eventually ended up on the streets, addicted and homeless.

During this time, she met Roman, who was also homeless and had been addicted to meth since he was 13 due to childhood abuse. Their relationship began with shared drug use. When Andrea became pregnant, they decided to move to Indiana, where Roman had family.

Despite efforts to stay clean, they relapsed. While living with Roman’s mother, Andrea went into labor shortly after getting high and lost custody of her baby due to the drugs in her system.

Distraught, Andrea was arrested after a drug binge. During her three weeks in jail, she picked up a Bible and began reading, which rekindled her faith. She started to believe she could change her life and get her daughter back.

Andrea encouraged Roman to read the Bible too, marking the beginning of their journey out of addiction. They sought refuge at one of Catholic Charities’ temporary shelters where they received meals, clothing and the services they needed to become more self-sufficient. Catholic Charities Case Management Services helped them obtain their Social Security cards and birth certificates, opening up opportunities for employment and housing.

Both Andrea and Roman found jobs, attended church and took the necessary classes to regain custody of their little girl, Lilah. Their income allowed them to secure housing and start the visitation process to spend time with their daughter while working to get full custody.

The road to recovery has been challenging. They regained custody of Lilah and began mending relationships with their other children and families. They have secured jobs that enable them to pay bills and save for the future. For Roman, supporting his family provides the motivation to resist returning to drugs.

Roman reflected, “It’s hard to love others when you cannot even love yourself. If I had known what I know now, maybe it could have been different. Catholic Charities gave me the ability to stand on my own two feet. They were the first stop on our path, and without their help, we would still be homeless and without hope.”

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. You can contact him at dbethuram@archindy.org.) †

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