Woman shares story of overcoming addiction, homelessness with help from Salvation Army

A woman who spent over thirty years in Austin shares her story of how she overcame addiction and homelessness. 

April Diaz lived in Austin from 1980 to 2017. She now lives in Upstate New York. 

For the bulk of her time in Austin, she was homeless.

"I was on the streets, and I slept on the side of the ARCH, and I would go in and out of the Salvation Army, but when I get high, I'd lose my bed because I wouldn't go back in," she said.

It all began in 1988, when she started drinking after her son drowned in a bathtub. Six years after that, her boyfriend at the time was murdered. Then she started using cocaine and became homeless.

"That was my routine every day for those many years. That's all I did was drink and get high," she said.

She was assaulted several times. The last time she was attacked with a knife, almost stabbed in the chest. That's when she decided to turn her life around.

"I said no, I was done. And that was enough for me," she said.

Diaz credits Harriet Young at the Salvation Army for helping her. 

"She would encourage me that I am better than what I was doing, that there was life beyond living in the streets, drinking and doing drugs," Diaz said.

"I would always, always uplift her," Young said.

Diaz says several others there also helped her get to rehab.

"They didn't give up on me. So I decided to listen to the words of encouragement and make a change in my life," she said.

Diaz moved to Upstate New York where her brother is. Now she manages a painting company with her boyfriend. She also says she has a good relationship with her family and has been clean for six years.

"I'm just too excited about my new life. I love my new life. I cherish my new life," she said.

When she sees others that are still in the same shoes she was in, she says, "some of the people look really bad and this may sound bad, but they're like death walking. When I saw them, I just thank God that I got out."

Her advice to them would be to ask for help from people like Young, and to think about their families.

"They should reach out and really talk to her and really listen to her and take the encouraging words and put it to heart," Diaz said.

"I give God the glory and allowing Him to use me to be able to help others," Young said. "I'm just honored."

"Life is a whole lot better on this side," Diaz said.