Success Stories

The Women’s Recovery Association exists to instill hope for a quality of life where each woman can become a successful, productive and healthy member of society.

Since 1970, WRA has served women, girls and their families without regard for age, ethnicity, ability, sexual preference or socioeconomic status. We draw our strength and inspiration from every woman and family we serve.

View our “Alive Again” video…real women’s stories of conquering addiction and reclaiming their lives.


Nearly three years ago, Dana made a devastating decision in the liquor aisle at Safeway when she realized that vodka could work faster and was much cheaper than her daily wine purchase. Six months later, she was drinking around the clock and her life was falling apart. She was losing everything at once – her apartment, her car, and the job she couldn’t show up for any more, but most importantly, she was steps away from permanently losing her daughter. Dana says she “hit bottom” when she missed her daughter’s fifth grade graduation. A combination of desperation and willingness led her to seek help and in July 2008, she started treatment in the Elms House at WRA.

“I was scared and I had completely lost the ability to take care of myself,” Dana says about her first days at WRA, but “it was such a gift – it was exactly where I needed to be.” She spent five months in residential treatment and moved to WRA’s transitional living program, Juniper House. After six months, she became the Juniper House Co-Manager and last June, Dana moved into her own apartment in Pacifica. She has also transformed her professional life. When she left residential treatment, she got a job as a barista at a local Starbuck’s and has since worked her way up to her current position as a Regional Coordinator for Starbuck’s Corporate.

One of Dana’s most important accomplishments has been rebuilding her relationship with Lana, her 13 year-old daughter. Before Dana got her own apartment, Lana lived with her father and Dana saw her on weekends. She now splits custody and Lana lives with her 50 percent of the time. “We’ve always been really close,” Dana says, but she thinks that Lana is glad that she’s so much more present, open and available. “We went on the (WRA) Alumni camping trip and Lana shared that she was ‘really grateful’ that her mom is sober.”

She admits this hasn’t been an easy journey and she’s worked really hard to build the life she has today, but she says that staying connected to the women she met in her recovery, taking suggestions, and working the program have “saved my life.” Dana is still a part of the WRA community as a member of the Alumni Association. “It’s nice to be on this side of things.”


The New Year of 2009 brought beautiful baby Ava into the world. With Ava’s arrival and a relatively short, but very destructive addiction to heroin and other drugs, her mother was given another chance to create a life for herself and her daughter. Rennie says, “Everything is so much different now, WRA totally saved my life.”

Rennie started using heroin at 16 and three years later, her addiction was in full swing and she relocated to the Bay Area. Maintaining her habit meant engaging in increasingly dangerous criminal activity. After her first arrest at age 21, she says she started “going downhill.”

In the summer of 2008, Rennie found herself three months pregnant in the San Mateo County jail, facing another six months and the prospect of giving birth to her child while incarcerated. She was offered to the opportunity to complete a residential drug treatment program as an alternative. She chose WRA and a few months later, she started treatment at Hillside House, WRA’s residential program for pregnant women and women with their children.

During her stay at Hillside, Rennie found the support and the strength to hope for a better life. After Ava was born, Rennie decided recovery was no longer just about her, it was Rennie’s chance to provide a happily ever after for Ava.

After treatment at WRA, Rennie and Ava moved into transitional housing for families hoping to reestablish self-sufficiency and enrolled at The College of San Mateo. As for the future, Rennie is still undecided about a career, but her ultimate goal would be to help just one addict from making the same mistakes that she did. Rennie looks forward to making the right decisions.

As she reflects on what has been helpful to her at WRA, she credits a number of factors, including her strong relationship with her counselor, the “House Mom” at Hillside, and the community of supportive women in recovery. “I came from jail with nothing. They (WRA) have been behind me every step of the way. Hillside gave me another chance at life.”