Welcome Home Women
Welcome Home Ministries
In May of 1996, I was incarcerated in the Vista Detention Facility, facing twelve years in prison, my sixth trip to the penitentiary spanning twelve years. I remember feeling as though my limbs weighed 100 pounds; I was sleeping 20 hours a day, in the deepest depression of my life. When I was not sleeping I felt like I was breaking into a thousand pieces, I could not stop my brain from showing me all of the awful things I had done to my family and community. I met a woman in the cell next door to me who was withdrawing from heroin, she was so sick and needed someone to talk to, and shared the pain and heartache we were feeling over our situations. She too was on her way back to prison, but offered me some advice about a prison treatment program. The goal at that moment was to somehow avoid the long prison term the courts were threatening me with, my mind was like a rat in a maze looking for a way out of the mess I had made. A woman came to the dorm one day, our mod was not allowed out to go to church, and was conducting a bible study. I did not join this gathering I sat up at the top of the stairs and listened however, and the words that woman spoke caused such a tremor in my heart that I began crying and could not stop.
It was at this same time that I met a true woman of God who changed my life. The Rev. Carmen Warner-Robbins called me out of my dorm to pray with me. To this day, I do not remember if I put in the request myself to see her or if someone else did, but that moment changed my life. This woman saw me, heard me, listened to me, and then asked if she could pray for me. I was not raised in a church, I suppose I knew who God was, but had never actually had a prayer said over me. So when she asked me what I would like for her to pray about, I was unsure but I told her of this treatment program that I might have the opportunity to be sentenced to. I also told her that it was a real longshot, that my next court was sentencing and the presiding judge was pretty tired of my criminal behavior. Carmen’s response was to quietly touch my hands, and I remember thinking “oh, she has the softest hands,” and she prayed a prayer of such power over me, that I was shaking. Court the following week was a miracle, one of many as I was granted the blessing of treatment for my addiction.
On December 5, 1997 I came to Green Oak Ranch in Vista CA. I walked into a place so far from my scope of experience, my breath left my body. A sense of peace and safety overtook me, a peace that surpassed all of my extremely limited understanding. I was welcomed by Mary Fielstra, and the other women who lived at the ranch, and they demonstrated by their actions what it really means to be a Christian. I learned that Jesus loved me in spite of my past. I learned that He lived close to us and we could safely turn our will and our lives over to His loving care. I learned that it is possible to live life without drugs and alcohol. I learned that I was worthy of love, and loving others. I learned what a healthy relationship looked like, that abuse was not a part of how a man treats a woman. I learned so many things while I was at the Ranch and I have carried them with me for 17 years. I have since learned that with the power and might of the Name of Jesus that my old self could be changed totally.
When I completed treatment, I was welcomed into the newly forming Welcome Home Ministries, the Rev. Carmen was in the process of guiding the developing a peer driven social model mentoring program, finding that when the women shared their experience strength and hope with each other, we became stronger, and more able to stop the cycle of recidivism that had plagued us. We were welcomed then began to welcome, were served then began to serve. The women of Welcome Home also knew intimately the walls and barriers we face upon release from jails and prisons and began to design and implement services that helped women to become self-sufficient members of society. We blossomed, we grew, we were strengthened and we gave our hearts to God and service to women.
Today, I have a loving husband, a restored relationship with my daughter, the most beautiful grandbabies that ever lived, a college degree that I use to help other men and women in the journey of recovery. I work full time as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor and have for the past 10 years. I have seen so many miracles take place; I continue to carry the message of peace to the suffering addict.
Karla D Lomiglio, CAADAC II
Drug and Alcohol Counselor
OHS San Marcos