September 27, 2017

Positivity: For homeless woman, Rome trip proves that ‘good things can happen’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Rome:

Sep 26, 2017 / 12:24 am

After a long struggle with alcoholism and homelessness, Melanie Medina has turned her life around. She said that a recent pilgrimage to Rome has proven that change is possible, and that “good things can happen.”

Medina spoke to CNA at the end of a six-day visit to Rome. She is the fourth person selected to go on pilgrimage to Rome through Denver Homeless Ministries (DHM).

“It’s all just a blessing, everything’s been turning totally different than the way it was before, everything,” Medina said.

DHM is an organization working to provide opportunities to serve the homeless as both “equals and friends.” DHM offers the pilgrimage as a way to encourage those who have made steps to change their lives.

This year’s pilgrimage lasted from Sept. 9-14 and consisted of Medina, trip organizer Tanya Cangelosi, and chaperone Christine Logan.

The pilgrimage was organized with the help of the Catholic Travel Centre (CTC), who payed for their hotel, limo transportation service to the airport, and Medina’s birthday dinner while in Rome. The CTC also took care of their flights after a delay left them stranded at the airport.

Until last year, Medina, 38, had been living on the streets and was struggling with alcoholism. She grew up in an alcoholic family, and from a young age she was often responsible for taking care of her parents and cleaning them up at night.

Medina left home at the age of 15, and went to stay with her older sister, who was also an alcoholic. She started hanging out with gangs and eventually entered an abusive relationship. She left the man after having two children with him by the age of 19.

After entering another long-term relationship and having her third child, Medina began to drink heavily herself, but eventually broke up with the man and entered rehab. When she got out, her ex-boyfriend offered to pay rent on their apartment so she and her kids could stay together while she got on her feet.

However, the man went back on his promise, leaving Medina on the streets, while her kids went to live with her mother.

Although she tried to stay sober, Medina started drinking again when the camp she made with a friend was raided and all of their things taken. When they moved camps, they would often have to put their food and belongings in the trees, so rats and mice didn’t get into them.

Throughout her time on the streets Medina was beaten several times, once until she was unrecognizable, and she was also raped. Last year she began having severe problems with her feet and could barely walk.

With no diagnosis, she bandaged her feet and quit wearing shoes. After awhile they began to heal, and it was around that time that Medina and her boyfriend, Christopher, decided to make a change and get off the streets.

In her comments to CNA, Medina said the turning point for her was Christopher: “ I met a really good guy out there, and we just wanted a better life for ourselves and to get my family back together,” she said.

After Medina’s visit to Rome this year, Christopher has been selected to go on next year’s pilgrimage. …

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