Reuniting families – Rita’s story

Franklin Sanders and Rita G.

Rita is 47 years old, and battled with addiction for most of her life.  Ten years ago, after many bouts with jails and institutions, she decided to stop and managed to stay away from drugs and alcohol for five years. But she just wasn’t ready to change her thinking, attitudes and behaviors and she eventually relapsed.

Almost five years ago she was in jail, facing twenty years in prison. While in jail, her mother passed away and her son was being raised by his godmother.  “I prayed on my knees and I asked God to teach me to stand on my own two feet. I haven’t looked back since.”  After nine months, Rita was released on the drug court program, homeless and full of fear.

“The only place that would take me was Freedom House.  They held me accountable to my manipulative ways and taught me how to be a mother, a woman and a productive member of society. I learned how to budget money and develop discipline in my daily life.”

Rita graduated from Freedom House in July, 2011. “I have my own place with my son where I pay my own bills. I got my driver’s license back and bought a car.”  She is a student at Thomas Edison State College and is close to completing a BA in Psychology. She also has a full time job at a marketing company.

“The relationship I have with myself and my son today is possible because of Freedom House. I will be forever grateful to Freedom House for giving me a chance when the whole world thought I was hopeless.”

Tim’s Letter

Dear Friend of Freedom House,

 For many years I struggled with the disease of addiction. I used drugs every day despite the many consequences I suffered as a result. I spent a lot of time in jails and institutions because I had no desire to change my direction.

I never wanted recovery. Others wanted it for me. But I had no desire to change my life. My family had always supported me but they were unsure if I wanted to live or die. In the summer of 2012 I was court ordered to enter Freedom House.


 A few years prior, my brother had received a lung transplant. He was born with a pulmonary disorder called Cystic Fibrosis. Unfortunately, his body rejected the donor organs and around the time I entered Freedom House, he was given only a few months to live.

As I progressed through the house something began to change inside of me. I’m not sure when or what exactly happened. I needed something different and suddenly I began to yearn for recovery. After a few months in the house I began to visit my brother on weekends. I spent time with him, which was something I had not done in years

February 1, 2013 I graduated Freedom House. I was ecstatic at my accomplishment yet terrified of the future. Three weeks later, my brother passed away. It was the most difficult time in my family’s life. I didn’t want to make things worse by relapsing but I wasn’t sure if I would make it through clean and sober.

I was shocked when my father asked me to speak at my brother’s wake. For the first time in my life, I was able to be there for my family physically and emotionally. And I got through it by following directions. I did exactly what was suggested to me and I stayed connected with other people in recovery. Many of these tools I learned during my time at Freedom House.

I never cared about anything and I am amazed everyday by the passion I have for recovery and life. Today, I have a full-time job and go to school full-time. I am two semesters away from acquiring my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and plan to continue in my education.

Freedom House gave me the opportunity to put the past behind me and start over. There was a time when my mother had two sons that were dying. She lost one son, but one has found a new life.

A gift of any size will help Freedom House help the next family.

Thank You,

Tim Signature

The Rescue of Joe “RocBottom” Rocco

Joe Rocco Pic 2At first it was fun as I gained attention at my cousin’s wedding, sneaking drinks when no one was watching. I got the same attention that I did when I did my little magic tricks. I was 12 years old and got drunk. I can’t remember the rest of the night. The next day I was violently ill and missed a week of school. Never again… I’ll stick with my magic.

A few months later at my brother’s wedding it happened again. This was the beginning of an alcohol and drug diseased life of pain and disappointment.  After 30 years  of  jails, overdoses, losing friends and family,  I was at my last hope of saving my own family, job, and self.

I gave up drinking and drugging with 12 step help and a brief detox program. After 89 days I thought I deserved a treat. The first airplane size bottle I drank did no harm, so I headed back for another one. I know now it was God showing me I cannot have one drink!

I woke  up in a hospital handcuffed to the bed. My wife and baby boy were there and the police read me my rights.  I was in an accident with four vehicles and under arrest for possession of cocaine, heroin, and open empty quarts of liquor, and several phony identifications. There was a stolen mountain bike in the trunk that I also had no memory of stealing. Never again! I must stop! And I did until I got out of the hospital.

I started again and ended up losing everything dear to me, family, homes, cars, jobs, and my self worth. I found myself homeless, unemployable, faithless and basically staying alive only to feed my addiction. I lived in abandon houses, buildings, a guard shack, and mostly under a bridge by the Trenton train station. This was the last three years of my disease. Finally, a prayer for help changed my life.  A Power greater than me got me to Freedom House.

Freedom House taught me to be human again.  That I am somebody! That I have a family in recovery. In 9 months I grew up more than in my whole previous life. My life was saved at Freedom House. I thank the graduates that came back to show us the way.  Now I am able to reach out and pass the good news that there IS a way out. There are  hundreds of men, woman, and children that would not be here  if God hadn’t put Freedom House on the hill to show us the way out.

I am a miracle and blessed to be drug and alcohol free since September 24th 1999. That’s 14 “Grace of God” years. Thank You!

TFA Graduate Achievement Award

Rita and Son pic

My name is Rita and I am 47 years old. I have battled with the disease of addiction for most of my life. After many bouts with jails and institutions I finally made an honest attempt at the process of recovery in 2003. I somehow managed to stay away from drugs and alcohol for five years and I stayed clean until October of 2008. During those five years I was irritable, restless and discontent. The truth is I just wasn’t ready to change everything about my thinking, attitudes and behaviors. I still felt the world owed me something and I eventually relapsed.

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Freedom House Alumni Association

Freedom House Alumni Association Bowling Marathon

Freedom House Alumni Association Bowling Marathon


Freedom House Alumni gathered for some fun at the bowling alley on April 21, 2013.

From Calvin Williams


To Mr. and Mrs. Reihl , Mr. Glen King and Staff I, Calvin Williams, am writing this letter to let you and the whole staff know that I’m so grateful for the gift you gave me for Christmas. It means so much to me. I thank you so much, knowing that someone cares about me and being here showing me how to live life on life’s terms. Now I can live a better life this way, clean and sober. [Read more…]

Residents & Graduates