At the age of 11, Betty Davis began a life of addiction. A sixth-grade drop-out, she took to the streets living a life filled with alcohol, meth and marijuana. Thirty-five years later, the now 49-year-old grew weary of hitting rock bottom. While incarcerated, she began asking for a program to help her get back on her feet.
"I got tired of not knowing where I was going to lay my head each day," she said.
She began to pray for a program and daily put those prayers in her God-box, she said. Her prayers were then answered when a program opened up at the Salvation Army in San Francisco, where she graduated in July. The chaplain there told her about Lodi Salvation Army's culinary school.
Davis went online to apply, and two days later, she was accepted.
On Tuesday, she became a culinary arts graduate, along with seven other people.
"I got my self-esteem back, and trust back with my children and grandchildren," she said.
The mother of three and grandmother of five has set her sights on becoming a better mother and grandmother.
She will be staying at the Salvation Army's kitchen until after the first of the year. She wants to help give back by feeding the homeless since she was once one of them.
"I feel for people out there in their addictions. There's no life out there in drugs," she said.
She wants people to know help is out there. To her, the best thing about the Salvation Army is that they are caring, loving people and they stop and take time to talk to you, she said.
In the coming months, Davis plans to continue to work on her recovery. She also plans to look for work as a prep cook. She is glad to have her life back and said she feels like she's somebody today. She says she owes a lot of thanks to Chef Barry Crall, who helped her through the program.
"He's an awesome man. He gave me hope and helped me find out that I could do it," she said.
Contact Panorama Editor Pam Bauserman at firstname.lastname@example.org.