“When I really feel like it's too much, that's when I reach out.”
Erica
ATC Client for 16 years

Erica describes how ATC has been her “safe haven” on and off for the last 16 years.

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Shawn: How did you first meet ATC?

Erica: I was in the Mission. I'm a San Francisco native, so I was, on 16th. I think I was like between Valencia and Mission on 16th Street, and the counselors at the time were, the main counselors were Kim and Taising, and I'll never forget them. Like they just stood out of ev-, like out of nowhere, they were just like, "Hey, you guys want some socks? You guys want some candy?" Everybody was just like, "Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah."

I mean for the first couple of months, I would just get like a little candy bag or you know, some socks when I seen them like on the street. I never really went farther into it, and then I think I had like a side conversation one night with Kim, or one of them, and she was just like, "Well, if you want to keep talking, or if you want a longer time to talk, you can just, you can call the office. Call during office hours and make an ap-, make a time, and we can set up a time. We can go get something to eat, and we can talk longer."

And, at the time in my life I was 18 and I was on my own, and I didn't get along really well with my family. I don't know, one day I just found myself calling at three o'clock, and I've been calling since. I think I get emotional because [starts to cry] At The Crossroads is like, big for me. It's funny, I can go a year or two without speaking to Shawn and then call like, "Shawn, I need to talk," and right, pick back right back up. I was lucky that the first counselors that I interacted with, which was mostly Kim and Taising also, they were here, they were with the program a couple of years, like two or three years, and then Shawn started working, and it's a trip, because I really don't—we don't really know each other on a huge level, but she knows me better than a lot of my own family, and I genuinely feel that she genuinely cares for me a lot more than people I've known my whole life, and people that are blood related to me, who are supposed to, quote-unquote, care for me, right.

So for six years straight it was like my safe haven, like my little escape from the madness, through hospitalizations, to incarcerations, through having my only child, born Christmas Day, addicted to meth, like and having her took from me, to rehabs, to losing my father, to my mom dying three years ago, to my daughter's father being murdered a year ago. Like realistically I've been through one really, really, really, heavy life. Being that I'm like the main support for most people in my family, in my inner circle, I don't ever have nobody for me. And so, when I really feel like it's too much, and that's when I reach out. And like more lately, so I've been reaching out a lot, and I know it's because I feel like it's starting to get too much for me, and subconsciously it's my way of like self-care. So yeah, I'm sorry.

Shawn: Girl, you have nothing to be sorry about.