Meet us Monday: Chanrelle, house manager

Meet Chanrelle, our newest house manger at one of our female houses.
Chanrelle and her five siblings were raised by a hardworking single mother in the Richmond projects. Chanrelle’s birth father was not around much, as he also struggled with addiction and substance use, and later passed at the age of thirty-eight from a heart attack. When Chanrelle was a child, she was sexually abused by her step-father at the time. On top of this trauma, she also felt a great deal of pressure to protect her younger sisters from experiencing this abuse. She was always trying to think one-step ahead in order to keep her siblings safe, like blocking their bedroom door with furniture, so their abuser could not get in. Eventually, Chanrelle was able to escape this abusive environment and went to live with her God-mother. Unfortunately, this childhood trauma stayed with Chanrelle even after she was able to leave.
Chanrelle started using drugs at the young age of 12. She was smoking weed, getting high on Percocet’s and Xanax, drinking, skipping school, and even selling drugs. This substance abuse carried on into Chanrelle’s adulthood, until she became pregnant with her daughter at the age of 20. Tragically, her daughter’s father was killed in December of 2013. This devastating loss caused Chanrelle to start using harder substances, like heroin and crack cocaine. Her daughter’s paternal grandmother was able to provide the child with the care she needed during these difficult years. Chanrelle never pictured her life going in this direction. She never imagined that she would reach a point where she would have to sell her body for money and drugs, that she would end up in life threatening situations, and fear for her life. Chanrelle was first arrested in 2016 and from that point, was in and out of jail. By the age of 28, she was a convicted felon and after being on the run for several months, she was charged and began serving time at Henrico County jail. Chanrelle reached a point where she realized “I’m either going to stay locked up or die,” if she kept on this path of substance use and violations.
A federal judge allowed Chanrelle to enter into REAL LIFE and this opportunity was the catalyst for change that Chanrelle was craving. REAL LIFE was the first program Chanrelle participated in and she credits the program, stating “REAL LIFE saved my life.” When she started the program, she finally felt she was ready to get clean. She was over and done with the street life. She knew she needed something new and felt that REAL LIFE came into her life at the perfect moment.
When asked what made REAL LIFE work for her, she expressed that the structure of the program and all the opportunities to learn from individuals with similar lived-experiences in her meetings and classes, helped her on this journey of recovery.
Chanrelle says REAL LIFE gave her a family. She recommends REAL LIFE to anyone who may be struggling in the same way she has. She knows this journey is difficult, but she was desperately ready for a change and she feels that made this process easier. “You have to be ready,” she says, but “taking it day by day,” is ultimately how she has achieved such success.
With the support from REAL LIFE and her dedication to change, Chanrelle is now two years sober! She got her first job at McDonalds and is now in the process of training to become a manager at her location. Chanrelle plans on getting her GED and would love to eventually own a home. She plans to continue working towards obtaining custody of her daughter, who is now ten years old.
Chanrelle’s motivation to continue on this recovery journey is fueled by her desire to never go back to what almost killed her. This is the longest she has ever been clean. Chanrelle’s sisters also struggle with addiction and she recently lost one of sisters in August. She didn’t let this devastating loss impact her sobriety; she allows herself to grieve without returning to old destructive coping methods. Chanrelle keeps her distance from her siblings, as she does not want to be around substances or triggers, but she maintains consistent contact with her mother, who is so proud of Chanrelle’s dedication to her success.
Chanrelle looks at recovery as a new beginning. She is working on forgiving the people who have harmed her. She may not be able to forget the past, but she knows forgiveness will allow her to move forward and heal. Chanrelle has a bright and prosperous road ahead and we are so proud to be with her on this journey!