/Woman ready to give back after journey through drugs, homelessness

Woman ready to give back after journey through drugs, homelessness


Angela Brossett was homeless for 3 years, sliding into drug dependancy after the February 2015 loss of life of her husband. But she’s turned her life round with the assistance of a particular court docket program and a pal.
Melissa Gregory, mgregory@thetowntalk.com, (318) 792-1807

ninth JDC’s behavioral-health court docket helped in restoration

“I graduated. That’s cool,” mentioned Angela Brossett, smiling as she holds the certificates. “So awesome.”

Brossett, 44, endured a grueling faculty of onerous knocks to get to this level, efficiently finishing the ninth Judicial District Court’s Behavioral Health Court simply earlier than Christmas.

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Angela Brossett (proper) met Rachel Tate (left) when she was homeless and addicted to medication. With Tate’s assist and Brossett’s completion of a behavioral well being court docket program, Brossett has her personal residence and a ardour to assist others. (Photo: Melissa Gregory/The Town Talk)

As a consequence, the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop some misdemeanor prices in opposition to her.

“She’s truly free of the court system,” mentioned Judge Patricia Koch as applause rang out. “We are so proud of her.”

The court docket goals to present assist to individuals coping with mental-health points who’ve been arrested on misdemeanor offenses. Similar courts will be present in jurisdictions throughout the nation.

It actually would not seem like most court docket classes, although. On the day Brossett graduated, Koch wore a glittery Christmas sweater as a substitute of a choose’s gown. She stood earlier than the gallery as a substitute of sitting behind the bench.

Representatives from organizations concerned within the purchasers’ instances sat at tables usually reserved for prosecutors and protection attorneys.

When Brossett obtained her certificates, she lingered with Koch and others, chatting and laughing. She did not have a lot to chortle about only a few years in the past.

Losing all of it

Brossett says she slid into drug dependancy and homelessness after her husband died. She credit this system, a newfound pal and religion, Koch and staff in her workplace for serving to her kick her drug dependancy, discover stability in her life and begin her personal work to assist these nonetheless on the streets.

Raised in Forest Hill, Brossett admits she’s accomplished “bad things” in her life, however says she had give up that. She had been married for about 14 years when her husband died in February 2015.

“I simply went to the deep finish,” she said. “When he died, I simply went extra to it.”

She misplaced custody of her three kids within the aftermath and used meth to cope together with her ache as a result of she thought it’d assist. Now, she will be able to see how unsuitable she was.

“Being off these medication, it’s fantastic,” mentioned Brossett.

But earlier than she acquired clear, she was arrested a number of occasions. Brossett says she would see and listen to issues whereas she was utilizing medication, and he or she described herself as paranoid on a regular basis.

More: Opioid epidemic: Daughter’s death leaves mom determined to help addicts

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She knows the decision to send her children elsewhere was for the best.

“All my kids? They’re like, no. Seeing their momma going through this in her life, they say they never want to mess with nothing, ever.”

She cries, talks fast and waves her hands around as she speaks about her life now, about how many good things have come her way and how she’s determined to help others.

The road back

She repeatedly talks about how Koch and staff members within the judges’ office at the Rapides Parish Courthouse helped her when she was at her lowest, sometimes letting her sit in their office when she needed a quiet place to escape from the streets and the pressure to use drugs again.

“She could have locked me up. She could have put me in jail,” said Brossett about Koch. “… She called my doctors. She called my caseworkers.”

Brossett said nobody ever had tried to help her like that before. She said the judge and staff members always were willing to help.

She still was using drugs when she was put into behavioral health court, which meets each Tuesday. Brossett described herself as a “very, very stubborn” person who wouldn’t listen to others.

But, deep down, she also recognized that something had to change.

“I knew I had to do this. I knew I had to do this.”

So she began the program, even as people she associated with on the streets tried to keep her on drugs. She was tempted more than once.

“I don’t know how I done it. I don’t know how I made it. … I could have died.”

Meeting a new friend

In her early days in the program, she met another woman who would have a tremendous impact on her life. Rachel Tate remembers that first meeting well.

Brossett and a boyfriend were arguing so heatedly that Tate stepped in to break them apart. The fight was over a blanket, which Brossett eventually recovered.

“And that was my favorite blanket,” she said. “I loved that blanket.”

Tate saw something in Brossett, she said. She began taking Brossett to church and, two months after they met, Brossett was baptized.

And then she disappeared.

Brossett hit a snag in behavioral health court, resulting in her being sent to a months-long rehabilitation program in New Orleans. It seemed to be the last push that she needed.

Tate was determined to stick with her, crediting Brossett for her own recovery.

“She determined within herself,” she said. “She’s a very strong-willed person. She’s very unique in that she found a purpose, I feel like, in a way. She found something to put her life into.”

When asked about the change she’s seen in Brossett, Tate pauses.

“I’m telling you, it’s a different, different, completely different person.”

Brossett calls Tate “wonderful” and “awesome.” She said she’d never met anyone like Tate before, and that she’s following her example through volunteering. She views them as a team working toward the same goal.

Still, she’s struggled with returning to the kind of life that most people take for granted. 

Brossett was placed in an apartment last year. After three years of homelessness, it took some time to get used to it. She spent time going back and forth between the apartment and a homeless encampment before she adjusted.

“I want my own place now,” she laughs. “I love it, but it took me a long time to cope.”

Brossett already had determined that she wanted to help other homeless people, those struggling as she once did. One day, someone in Koch’s office handed her a copy of her jail booking mugshot.

At first, Brossett didn’t recognize herself. But it occurred to her that she could use the photograph in her work. Many people swear it can’t be her, she said, but she shares it to tell them that they can change their lives.

Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell said all his assistant district attorneys have the authority to refer defendants to the court. He said Judge Koch does a “phenomenal job” with it.

“It’s a tremendous program,” he said.

Looking to the future

Tate views herself as a mentor for the homeless she works with, saying it allows her to become closer to them. While not discounting the work organizations do to help the homeless, she believes true success only can come when people invest extended time and resources into their efforts, forging friendships with those they serve.

There’s a stigma attached to homelessness, Tate says, so she’s determined to do more than just feed them. She’s convinced that you have to strike up friendships in order to help people overcome the obstacles holding them back.

“No doubt, some of them are addicts but I haven’t met one addict that likes the fact that they’re an addict,” she said.

Tate said she saw the results with Brossett.

“Having someone there working with her and keeping up with her and taking her to church and bringing her to come help with all that stuff, God already had her on a path,” she said. “He just sent us to get her there. Now, coming from that place, she can help people a lot more. She has a heart for that because she’s been in that situation.”

Brossett says she has mixed feelings about everything she’s been through, but that she’s glad it happened. People tell her how much she’s changed.

She’s anxious to begin doing as much as she can. She says she wants to tell her story to the homeless on the streets, to inmates in prisons and anyplace else it might help.

“I want to save as many souls as I can,” said Brossett. “I love doing what I’m doing.”

She said the court taught her how to have a better attitude. Her relationships with her children are better these days, but she knows it will take time to rebuild those bonds.

Brossett said she’s left the life she used to lead behind for good.

“I’ve got too much. I’m working for God.”


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