When Maria Alexander landed a job at a nonprofit in Los Angeles in 2002, she was recovering from more than a decade of struggles with heroin, then crack cocaine.
“I was living on the side of the freeway, and I went into labor on the side of the freeway,” said Maria, who goes by “Alex,” recalling the birth of her daughter in 1991.
Petty drug offenses led to stints in the Los Angeles County Jail system, a years-long cycle until a fateful ‘02 arrest for $5 in crack.
Instead of jail, Alex went into treatment. She spent six months recovering at a facility in North Hollywood called CRI-Help. When she had a hard time finding a job, CRI-Help sent her to paid job training at the Center for Living and Learning.
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