We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Mcdermott and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erin, how do you think about risk?
Taking risky leaps of faith changed my life. I think risk taking is of extreme importance or you’ll just stay average. Comfort is an enemy to our dreams. I say prayerful risk taking is essential to making an impact in the world.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Currently I am a Participant Advocate III at the Family Support Center with Catholic Charities here in Santa Rosa, CA. In this job, I get to advocate and work closely with the families who are living in the shelter experiencing homelessness but are also taking the steps out of homelessness and back towards housing. It’s been a journey getting to where I am today and I am always growing and maturing in my walk with the Lord, but it has been the most impactful to see the way the Lord has taken all of my past, all of my hurts, old habit’s, and attitudes and use them to benefit the lives of others. I sure didn’t start my journey the same person I am today. I was so broken, so lost, and hurt when the Lord reached down and rescued me. When people see me today, they have no idea that I am a survivor of a fentanyl overdose, or a survivor of human trafficking, or a recovering heroin and meth addict, or that I have spent over 5 years in prison and programs, this list goes on and on. But just like the Lord promises, He takes all that the enemy meant for harm in our lives and He uses it for ours and others good. I have seen this come to pass almost daily in my life. The Lord is such a huge part of my story, there’d be no way to share my testimony and not mention God. The Lord intercepted my life about 5 years ago in the darkest time of my life. I had just lost the love of my life to fentanyl, by the grace of God I woke up from the overdose and my fiancé did not. God gave me another chance. I had also lost my mom to opiates as well, I had been addicted to heroine and meth and lost my kids, I had lost everything I owned multiple times and so I had experienced a lot of loss, a lot of heartache, a lot of real tough experiences that usually breaks a person and thats What it had done. It was bringing me to my knees and I thank God for that, finally when I came to the end of myself, I cried out to God and He came faithfully. One of the first things the Lord did for me, was send a mentor into my life., Chelsea. Someone who was so similar to me, had lived a similar life, she knew about pain, and suffering, but yet this woman would show up different, vibrant and alive, and I saw some things I wanted in her. This gave me so much hope, for the first time in my life, I had seen someone that looked like me but she was full of peace, and joy, and you could see Jesus in her. God knew exactly who to send my way. Had it been anyone else, I don’t know that I would’ve held on so tightly. Having her in my life gave me hope, and an excitement to get up and try again, to want to want to do something better. By having this person who would come and meet me where I was at, no judgment only understanding and compassion completely changed my world. This is the way in which I relate to others now. So when I am working with my clients, they know there’s depth there, they know I understand what they’re feeling on a very real level. It is my motivation to leave every person, every conversation better than I found it. My whole life has been given over to dispensing hope to those who may still be struggling, and can’t see the light just yet. Of course this walk has not been easy, there’s been hurdles, and trials, and testing but by faith and hope, the Lord always see’s me through to victory. I’ve learned a new way of life in Jesus, and of course it’s not been easy at all. Some day’s are tougher than others, life still happens but today I have that safe place to run to for strength or for peace when I need it. Just by prayer I’ve walked through the things that used to enslave me and it’s my greatest hope and passion to carry that into other’s lives. I’d say that is what sets me apart in my work environment, the experience, the hope, and the passion to see lives changed. That passion comes from a place of experience and knowing that there is more. I have been blessed to carry my life experiences into our ministry that the Lord has built over the last 5 years as well. We have a ministry called Crowns Ministry that is all about meeting women where they are, and finding their gifts and talents and pulling those out of them. We also help these women rebuild their lives, become productive members of society again, and walk closely with them as they walk with the Lord. Crowns Ministry began with me and my mentor, meeting in her living room, seeking Jesus. Her and I have gotten the honor to go into the local women’s drug treatment facilities and share our testimonies with them, and share the gospel with them and watch as these women come alive. Once these women finish treatment we are on the other side waiting to do life with them. This has been one of the most rewarding things in my life. As we walk with them, we are also growing, and becoming who God meant for us to be. All in all, as the Lord places people around me to help, it also helps me to stay focused, moving forward. I have discovered passions that I never knew I had, and gifts that I never knew I had. My greatest passion is to see other women discover Jesus and in turn discover themselves. I have learned how to be a mother to my children again as the Lord restores my family. I have learned how to love again, and most of all how to love myself. I have discovered a passion to serve my community by doing outreach and bringing the love and light of Jesus to those still out there hurting. That’s what I love most about Crowns Ministry, it gives you purpose and passion. Whatever the Lord has placed on the inside of us, to give Him glory always surfaces when we look to Him. It’s like being reborn. And that’s why they call it Born again when we say yes to Jesus. That is my greatest passion of all, to see women just like me, be born again.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
9am- So Co Coffee shop- There’s some of the best little hidden nooks where the sun beams in, and the greenery in so beautiful, and the coffee is so good! 11am- Hike at Taylor Mountain- to get our body moving, and active, some beautiful scenery and quiet rolling hills.
1pm- Tamale truck on Sebastopol Rd. in Santa Rosa- Get a group of our girls together for Tamales. This places has hands down THE BEST TAMALES!
2pm- Some shopping/walking/Wandering in Healdsburg, CA. All the cool little eclectic shops (expensive boutiques), buy a piece here and there.
5pm- Drive out to San Francisco for dinner- Go to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner, sit on the water and talk and eat.
8pm- Go to girlfriend’s house for a night of fellowship, worship and prayer.

The next day.
9am- Try a new coffee shop, I LOVE trying new coffee shops all over the place.
12pm- Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for some sight seeing, all the beautiful Mammals are incredible!
5pm- Go to Sonoma State University for Human Trafficking survivors event with some friends to listen to survivors give their testimonies and what they’re doing in their lives today-w/ Elizabeth Quiroz as host.
7pm- Some good dinner at Belly-West Coast American dining in Downtown Santa Rosa, patio dining under the flame heaters with some good friends and good conversation.

The next day.
9am- Go take an early morning walk w/ a couple friends around Howarth Park, walk around the lake, good conversation.
11am- Go walk around and look at all the shops in Guerneville. I LOVE shopping at cool little boutiques in neat little towns.
1pm- Go to the river in Guerneville, have a RIVER day! I’m more of a river girl than an ocean girl, but I do love both!
5pm- BBQ burgers on the river! A good ol’ BBQ dinner!
Just a few ideas!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost I have to give credit to Jesus Christ. He who met me in the darkest time of my life, took me by the hand and day by day lead me into the light. Secondly I would shout out Crowns Ministry for surrounding me day in and day out with other like-minded sisters who walk through this life with me no matter where I’m at or what I’m facing, these sister’s do life with me and love me like I’ve never been loved before.

Instagram: jrnbellamommy

Image Credits
1st & 2nd pic- at a sisters graduation for a treatment program she finished. 3rd pic- me with my children. 4th pic- me with a best friend on one of our morning hikes. 5th pic- me and a group of our girls from Crowns Ministry.

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