Amidst the din of conversation, of plates being filled, served and emptied, a warm smile greets friends and neighbors as she serves up her homemade empanadas. Stephanie Clarizio has become a fixture at City Hope over the last year, known not only for her cooking skills but for her generous heart as well.
Stephanie lived much of her 29 years struggling to find her way out of addiction. Two years ago Stephanie had what she describes as a “God moment.” From then on, she started taking a different path – pursuing a sober lifestyle and determined to make her way in a new city.
As she got healthier, physically, mentally and spiritually, she began volunteering at her church and doing service work through her involvement in AA. “I realized that I have this passion for people, and I felt like God was really calling me into it because I loved it,” says Stephanie.
Now as Program Assistant at City Hope, Stephanie manages all things related to the weekly events that the Community Center is known for in the neighborhood. From set-up, to food prep to making sure the logistics run smoothly, Stephanie is in the details. “I get full doing what I do – I feel called to minister to people and speak life into them. Being an example that it’s possible,” says Stephanie. “I tell people – I’ve been right where you are. That’s my favorite part of my job, the conversations that I have. The relationships.”
Stephanie moved into City Hope House last May, a place that she says has been a safe haven for her. The House serves as a two-year bridge between completion of an inpatient recovery program and attainment of permanent housing. Stephanie is one of 25 residents. “I like knowing everyone that lives here; it keeps me accountable. I didn’t feel like I was ready to go into the world,” she says, “I know myself – I’d relapsed before. I said to myself, ‘I’m not messing this up.’”
Stephanie brings her exuberance to City Hope every day, shining light into the lives of neighbors that she deeply understands. “I’m just a normal person,” Stephanie says. “For whatever reason, I got really blessed to be saved. But I’ve also worked really hard to stay that way. I feel really uniquely gifted.”
At City Hope one of our values is Listening Well. We believe it is vital to listen to people's stories, to seek to understand where they are coming from, and to amplify their voices.