McLOUD, Okla. (KFOR) – For two full decades, an addiction to drugs ruled the life of an Oklahoma woman. She hit rock bottom, lost everything, and became homeless.
Desperate, Jennifer Ellis prayed for God to help her quit the drugs that destroyed her life. She says God answered those prayers by sending a person she now calls her “Angel.”
Jennifer is so firm in her faith that she had her favorite Psalm proudly tattooed on her neck.
“That He will never leave me, He will never forsake me,” Jennifer said, describing her tattoo. “Because He rescued me and He knows my name.”
Over the past twenty years, and a failed stint in rehab, addiction dragged Jennifer down the devastating, dark path to life’s rock bottom.
“I lived in my car. I was homeless,” she said. “I’d be crying and asking him, ‘God, please take this drug addiction away from me, please help me.'”
Jennifer believes God heard her pleas and led her to a Facebook job post for cleaning used, remodeled mobile homes for resale at Sherlock Homes in McLoud.
“And then I met Ashlee.”
Jennifer got the job. Ashlee McDonald is her boss – but Jennifer gives her a much higher title.
“She’s an angel and I think that God sent her and put her in my life. She never let me down. She’s never looked down on me. When I wanted to give up, she was there.”
Jennifer says Ashlee’s relentless encouragement to keep going is what broke Jennifer’s addiction. That gift of sobriety is going on one year now.
“She set me free,” Jennifer said. “It feels amazing, it’s amazing!”
Ashlee also taught Jennifer how to budget and save, which led to Jennifer moving into her first house.
At work, Jennifer met Stacy Taber, who shares a similar background.
“She doesn’t treat you different,” Stacy said of Ashlee. “I was in a bad spot. My daughter was pregnant, she was fixing to have her baby and we were homeless.”
Stacy now remodels the mobile homes before they are resold. She, too, thinks the world of her boss, especially after an unpaid ticket sent Stacy to jail.
“She came and got me out of jail, I’ll say that. And it was like 1:00 in the morning,” Stacy said.
Stacy and Jennifer also say Ashlee has given food and paid past-due bills for other employees. For all she has done and continues to do, the duo nominated Ashlee for a $400 Pay It 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank’s Brad Willis.
“She’s a perfect example of what the Pay It 4Ward program is. What I’d like to do now is to provide you a little token, a little thank you, to share with Ashlee,” Brad said.
And with that $400 token of gratitude, our News 4 crew surprised Ashlee, who humbly refused to take any credit.
“I feel like they did the work, I didn’t do it. But to be a part of it and to watch it, it’s a pretty big deal,” she said.
Jennifer handed the money to Ashlee, as she hugged her boss. “This is $400 for you… For never giving up on me when everybody else has… You’ve always been there for me… I wouldn’t be off drugs if it wasn’t for you and God.”
“I’m proud of you!” Ashlee replied. “She was rough and I knew that she had it in her to do great things, she just needed somebody to be there.”
Just as Jennifer and Stacy transform worn, sometimes broken, mobile homes into beautiful new beginnings, Ashlee helped transform Jennifer’s life.
And Jennifer’s dream is to repay that gift by someday counseling others battling drug addiction, so they, too, can be free.
If you know someone seeking help for addiction or mental health services, you can text 988, or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year information service at (800)487-4889, or click here for more information.
If you know someone deserving of a Pay It 4Ward, you can nominate them here.
Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.