Former homeless woman celebrates milestone with help from New Ho - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Former homeless woman celebrates milestone with help from New Horizons annual expo

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

While homelessness is declining nationally, the numbers are growing in the Chattahoochee Valley.

Each night, hundreds of homeless people sleep on the streets of Columbus even though there are shelter beds available, and resources in place to help.

In an effort to connect the homeless with those available community resources, New Horizons Community Services Board (CSB) held their annual expo Friday, Jan 31.

We spoke with a graduate of the New Horizon's program who says being homeless is like watching the world continue on with you.

"You wonder how you got here. How long are you going to be here? Are you going to die here," Cynthia Jenkins proclaims.

Jenkins spoke to a packed room of survivors of homelessness and those still in the trenches at the annual Project Homeless Connect Resources Expo.

Jenkins recalls coming to Columbus from Tuskegee in search of a way out. 

For seven years, she battled homelessness and addiction. 

"When you're out there and you're addicted like I was, as a symptom of being out there, it makes you only want to continue to do the drugs," Jenkins declared.

Jenkins said when you are homeless you are constantly thinking about survival.

"You're on the outskirts of society and it makes you feel hopeless, and miserable, because you see society passing you by, and you're not an active, productive part of it," said Jenkins.

Jenkins is one of many who have completed the programs sponsored by New Horizon's. Organizers say the mission is to connect the homeless to community resources, secure employment, and adequate shelter; but, most importantly teach people to become self-sufficient.

"I had to make an evolution." Jenkins said. "I had to go to a program called Midtown treatment Recovery Center that had to teach me a different way of thinking, a positive way of thinking and it involved God. You have to retrain your brain to think in a productive manner because when you're under the influence of drugs, and you're living in the streets, your mind learns to think of survival. That form of thinking is not compatible with society."

Jenkins had many reasons to be proud of herself as she prepared to celebrate a major milestone.

"I graduated in December of 2012. I got hired in January of 2013, a month later. [January] will be a year for me having been employed at the Medical Center. I am totally blessed, and grateful to have two technical certificates, one in Healthcare Science, and one in Sterile Processing Technicians."

Attendees were served a feast during the annual event.

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