Off The Street, Back to Blanchet
It was the early 90s in Portland. Jessica Carroll had a mohawk, a methamphetamine addiction, and most nights slept under the SW Clay St. overpass. 17-years-old, homeless and hungry she would often eat at the Blanchet House of Hospitality.
Things are very different for Jessica now. She no longer has a mohawk, or a drug addiction. She is a graduate of Portland State University’s McNair Scholar program, and now studies at Lewis & Clark College, completing her master’s degree in Professional Mental Health Counseling with a focus on addictions. She now volunteers to counsel men at Blanchet House facing her former struggles.
In addition to volunteering and working toward her masters she has a full time job at the Mental Health Association of Oregon. She’s a project coordinator for Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center, which works to support tribal communities.
“We can be judged by our worst moments and we carry those labels. Hopefully, above nothing else, I am just living proof that labels don’t have to define you,” she says.