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Member Story: Debra

“I always remember dates. The moments my life changed.” For member Debra, April 9, 2009 is one of those dates.

It’s the day she got clean.

For 25 years, Debra fought drug and alcohol addiction, as well as bipolar disorder. She was often homeless and used most of what little money she acquired to feed her addiction. Compounding all of this was Debra’s struggle to receive the mental health care she desperately needed.

In a city that has witnessed rampant economic growth over the last decade, Debra felt powerless to access the bare necessities.

“You sort of become invisible,” she says when recalling the days and nights spent panhandling for food.

But on April 9, 2009, Debra began her recovery from addiction through a program with the King County Drug Court. Armed with support from this program and unwavering faith in herself, Debra graduated. In fact, she completed the program so successfully that the court asked her to become a peer support specialist – a role she earnestly accepted.

Today, Debra works at an agency that supports clients in their mental health recovery process; some of her clients also have drug and alcohol dependencies. She’s a fierce, effective ally for these people because she’s lived their experience. 

“Sometimes it’s too hard to take it day by day. So you take it minute by minute,” she says. “But I know it’s possible to recover because I’ve fought hard every day for ten years.”

It was one of Debra’s clients that introduced her to Seattle Credit Union.

“When I walked into the Burien branch, I couldn’t believe how welcoming Cristal was,” Debra says of the representative that helped her. “She made me feel seen, valued. I haven’t been in a bank setting like that in years.”

She opened an account on the spot.

Debra’s proud to manage her money with an organization whose values align with her own and is committed to strengthening community through financial education – something Debra had to learn on her own.

“Money is a trigger when you’re an alcoholic,” says Debra, who learned how to manage her own finances while in recovery. “I was so excited when I paid my first bills on my own – rent, lights, cellphone. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to do that.”

Debra is committed to helping as many people as she can. She insists, “I have to give back because I’ve received so much.”

As she continues her financial journey, we’ll continue to support her and all the good she’s putting into the world.

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