Impact Speech at the 2024 CTC Breakfast

written and shared by Brenda Lawrence

Good morning, my name is Brenda Lawrence.

I was born with an unbalanced brain.

My mother didn’t recognize it until I was 16 years old.  She began taking me to the Shreveport Mental Health Center.   She did that until she passed.

I was 21 years old and still living at home when my mother died.  When she passed, I took it really hard.  I got involved with some people I did not know.

They told me if I do drugs that I would not feel the pain anymore.  I did that for over 27 years.

Then, I became homeless.

I could have gone to live with one of my four daughters, but I did not want to live with them.  I knew I could not do the things I wanted to do.  Meaning I wanted to do drugs.

I did not ever want to feel that pain of losing my mom again.  I was a very sad, sad person.

Then one day, I hit rock bottom.

A lady gave me information about Volunteers of America.  That one phone call changed my life.

I moved into my own apartment with assistance from Volunteers of America in 2011.  When they opened that door, I could not believe how beautiful it was.  I could not believe it was my new place.

Part of the agreement to be housed was that I had to take classes at Visions of Hope.

That’s how I learned about my mental illness.

At the age of 50 years old, no one had ever taught me anything about my illness.

I learned I was born with bipolar.

So, I began taking medication for it.  I would do it for a while and then I thought I was all right.  So, I would stop taking my medicine.  It took me a long time to realize I needed medication every day to stay healthy.

I lived in Volunteers of America supportive housing for 7 years.

I have fond memories of those days.  Especially on Sundays when the Volunteers of America van and Mr. Marvin would pick us up for church.

Seven years later, I am on my own now. I have been drug free and taking my medicine for over 10 years.

God spared my life and Volunteer of America helped save my life. 

I have learned so much from Volunteers of America and the people who work for them.  They never left me. They kept believing in me.  They knew I could do this on my own.  They used to tell me that all the time.  They taught me 3 things.

I know my worth.

I know who I am.

I love me for me.

You have helped save my life.  I will never forget it.

Thank you!


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