Peggy is the kind of woman you read about in books, but rarely meet. She is strong, responsible and quick with a laugh. She is what your grandmother would have called, "the salt of the earth." At 85, she has the keen mind and energy of someone decades younger. When others might be content to sit on their porch and watch the world go by, Peggy remains an active part of it-volunteering at several senior centers each week and singing in the choir.
In 1958, Peggy was 26 years old and newly married to her husband, Bob. Soon their family grew as they welcomed a baby boy. It should have been a picture-perfect Norman Rockwell moment-it wasn't. Within three years, she lost Bob to kidney disease and was left alone to care for her young son. Determined to make a better life for herself and her son, she found a job working at a bank. "When I came home, I would have a drink. I found that I was looking forward to that drink."
Soon her drinking began to spiral out of control forcing her to quit her job and move into her parents' home. While trying to keep it together during the day, at night Peggy would sneak out of the house and walk the streets in the dark and pray for a car to hit and kill her. She sought help to deal with her drinking from doctors, hospitals, and psychiatric hospitals, but nothing seemed to work. "I did take shock treatments. That is how desperate I was to stop drinking."
She moved to Southern California for a fresh start and began working for her brother-in-law, Tom, but her drinking continued to escalate. Tom suggested she give Casa a try. "I've made an appointment. Would you go with me?" he asked her. Her eyes still fill with tears when she remembers, "I said, 'Yes.' I remember this so clearly. I went into my room and knelt on the floor. I said, 'God, please. If you are not going to let me die, show me the way."'
Twenty-four hours later, she was staying at Casa and listening to a speaker. "Our speaker said that she had been sober for ten years. I thought 'ten years! I can't even get ten hours some days,"' Peggy continued. Then their speaker said something that changed Peggy's life. "She said it was a disease and I felt this weight come off me. I knew I was going to be okay. I said to myself, 'thank you, God."' Peggy remained at Casa for 30 days, but stayed connected to the people and programs for decades. "We went to meetings. Sometimes people would drop in and just talk. We talked about our emotions. Sometimes we talked privately or in a group. I didn't have anyone to talk to who could understand what I was going through before Casa.
That was 49 years ago, and Peggy is still going strong. She has a lovely home in San Gabriel and friends and family that love her. Of course, she will always be an important part of the Casa family. "Can you see what Casa did? Look at this house! I own it outright. I didn't have anything when I went to Casa. I can't believe these people came and they didn't want anything. They just wanted to help."Peggy B., Alumna