Jessica Youngblood began serving as an intern at Esther House, Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley’s women’s center, in late October after completing a six-month program at the agency. She works with women at the facility, making sure they get to their appointments throughout the day.
“I am enjoying it,” Jessica said. “I feel like I’m in my purpose for what God has for me. Every day I wake up and it gives me a reason to wake up.” She knows she’s supposed to be there, being in service.
Jessica arrived at Esther House after completing another recovery program. “I was in sober living and I was looking for another place to go that would help me with my relationship with Jesus Christ…,” she said. “God just pointed me in the direction of Teen Challenge.” After completing the program, Jessica wanted to stay. “My heart was really in it,” she said. “I felt like it was really a place I could serve and do God’s will. I just had a really strong pull to it.”
A relationship with God has always been an underlying element in Jessica’s life, but when she got sober, she surrendered to it, allowing God to direct her. “It seemed like the only way I would be able to have a real sober life was to allow Him to lead me,” Jessica explained. She says it’s worth the effort. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it,” she said. “It’s like spiritual boot camp being here. It’s very focused work. It’s a holistic process to me and it involves all different areas of my life. It’s a very internal, intimate process.”
Jessica, 35, who’s from Columbus, began drinking when she was 18, moving on to cocaine and prescription painkillers at 26. She was involved in a series of abusive relationships and then at 30, began using harder drugs like methamphetamine and heroin. The mother of four children, ages 5 to 15, maintained periods of sobriety while pregnant followed by drug binges after the births of her children. She sought help and was prescribed Suboxone to help her get off of the harder drugs. Jessica wanted off of Suboxone, too, but had difficulty finding someone to help her. She slipped into a deep depression and ended up hospitalized. That’s when she entered the other recovery program.
“Prior to getting help it was just a deep dungeon of depression, just like no purpose, no reason to live kind of mentality,” Jessica said. “Now every day has a purpose. I feel supported in my recovery and in my walk with Christ. I have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ than I did before.” She hopes to become an Esther House staff member after completing her internship and to earn a Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant license. “I just believe that God brought me through everything I’ve been through to help other women in my position,” Jessica said.