Athena House Saved My Life 100%

Tracy’s Story
Tracy’s Story

In 2020, Tracy found herself at a crossroads in life. She had been running two businesses – a day spa and a horse ranch with as many as 18 horses. On top of her professional commitments, she was grappling with her mother’s brain cancer diagnosis and caring for her newborn son.

Tracy was trying to do everything for everyone except herself. The mounting responsibilities, her inability to say “no” or set boundaries, and her deep fear of inadequacy sent Tracy down a path of addiction to opioids and cocaine.

“I was doing everything – yet nothing – to keep myself going,” she said.

Tracy struggled to kick the drugs on her own, especially the opioids. Child Protective Services got involved. It was this pivotal moment that led Tracy to the Athena House addiction recovery program for women in Sonoma County.

“That’s why I call my son my lifesaver,” Tracy explained. “If I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t have ended up at Athena. And this place saved my life 100%.”

Tracy’s journey through the program was far from easy. The world was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding an extra layer of isolation and uncertainty. She spent four months in intensive treatment at Athena House, during which time the structured environment and support system became her sanctuary.

“When I walked in, it just felt like this really dark place. And when I left, it was so light and airy,” Tracy remembered.

She credits the detailed curriculum that “makes you dig so deep into yourself.” Tracy discovered she was driven by a profound insecurity and fear of disappointing people.

“One of the biggest lessons I learned is you can’t help anyone else until you learn to help yourself,” Tracy said. “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself.”

Tracy also credits the strong and compassionate women who run the program, along with the tight-knit alumnae network: “Everyone has lived experience. They can relate to you, you can relate to them, and there is no judgment,” she said.

After completing her stay at Athena House, Tracy transitioned to the DACA Centerpoint outpatient program. This phase of her recovery was crucial, as it helped her maintain accountability and reinforce the lessons she had learned.

Through her journey, Tracy said she learned that self-care is not selfish and asking for help is not weakness. She has turned her attention to just one work commitment – her day spa. Horses are simply her “happy place,” not a demanding job.

“I’m spending more time on things that will fill my cup instead of other people’s cup.”

Like so many Athena House graduates, Tracy often returned to Athena House for aftercare, meetings, to volunteer or to just visit.

“Once you’ve been in that house, it’s your home forever,” she said. “If you’re struggling, you can reach out to the staff at any time. The relationships you build are really significant. Without them, it would be very easy to get lost after graduating.”

Tracy also became deeply involved in fundraising efforts and community outreach in 2022 when Athena House and its sister sober living campus, Hope Village, faced homelessness under a different operator. At that time, the two programs were located on separate properties. Now, the programs sit side by side on a single spacious property in Santa Rosa, gifted by angel donors Bill and Cindy Gallaher, locally based real estate developers.

On a recent afternoon, Tracy stopped by with her son and new baby to witness this campus transformation. The old facilities, which once offered refuge despite their less-than-ideal conditions, have been replaced by modern, welcoming spaces thoughtfully designed for healing and mother-child reunification.

“When I saw the Gallahers’ plans for revitalizing the property, I nearly started crying,” Tracy shared. “I will always keep this place and everyone in it very close to my heart.”