We all experience challenges in life, some serious and some not so much. The fortitude and tenacity with which we face those challenges, as well as the knowledge that it is never too late to make a change, are typically what matter most.
Believe me when I say that Ginny Burton has some knowledge on the subject. Local12 News recently published her amazing account of adversity and ultimate success, and boy does it make for fantastic reading.
According to Eric Johnson of Local12, he first met Ginny while researching the crisis of homelessness that had engulfed Seattle and so many other cities throughout the United States several years prior.
“I walked into a men’s shelter called Lazarus Day Center, run by Catholic Community Services,” Eric wrote. “I don’t know what I was looking for. I just wanted to talk to somebody and learn.
“I introduced myself to a woman who was working there. She had long hair and seemed tired. She was being pulled in about five different directions and seemed a little suspicious, but she stepped outside and talked to me for a few minutes.”
That woman turned out to be Ginny Burton. As per Local12, Eric once again met Ginny two years later, after calling Lazarus to see if she still worked there.
“When she called I said, ‘I don’t know why, but I think I need to talk to you again…’” Eric wrote.
She then began to recount her life’s events, including how she was born to a heroin addict and dealer who also had a mental disorder. When she was just four years old, her father was sentenced to prison for a string of armed robberies.
Ginny’s difficult upbringing caused her to start smoking marijuana by the age of six. At 12, her mother then gave her her first taste of meth, and by 14, she was puffing on crack.
She allegedly experienced a rape at the age of 16, and at age 17 made her first suicide attempt. Ginny started using heroin at the age of 23 after giving birth to two children and leaving an abusive marriage.
Ginny told Local12: “I am that person. I have 17 felony convictions. I am the person you used to clutch your bag when I walked by you. I am the person that would randomly attack somebody in public. I was not a savory person. Everybody was a victim, and everybody was prey.”
As for her life on the street, which consisted of her and a male accomplice robbing Mexican drug dealers at gun point, she continued:
“When you’re stuck on the street and you smell like feces and you haven’t showered in forever and you can’t make it into a social service during working hours because you’re too busy trying to feed your addiction, and your addiction is bigger than you… and you’ve compromised your integrity a number of times over and over and over again, and you’re starting to be victimized by the people on the street… you’re hopeless.
“You can’t stand your life. You would rather be dead than alive. I spent most of my addiction wishing that somebody would just blow me away.”
Ginny tried to change her bad course after realizing it, but she was trapped in an unstoppable cycle of addiction. Her most recent stay in prison was in 2008, where she served 33 months behind bars.
After getting out, she was able to maintain her sobriety for six months before succumbing to relapse. On December 5, 2012, she was subsequently detained for the last time.
“I was in a stolen truck,” she told Local12.
“A really slow one. I pulled out and a cop turned on the lights to pull me over for a light that was out. I took off and he chased me. I almost crashed into a tree in front of an apartment building. And that was it. that was the end.”
But that didn’t spell the end. Not the end of all hope, at least.
After pleading for admission to the Drug Diversion Court program, Ginny underwent treatment and rehabilitation where she was able to become clean once more and maintain it.
Ginny began working as a social worker for the Post Prison Education Program for seven years because she was determined to make amends for her previous mistakes. She gained the notion and inspiration to attend school there.
She said: “It made me recognize how much time I had wasted in my life. And I also recognized that I was actually good at learning. something I enjoyed.”
Ginny attended South Seattle College and then applied to the University of Washington. She received a Martin Honor Scholarship to the UW in 2019.
Ginny studied political science when she was 47 years old, and she did well.
She just shared two side-by-side images to commemorate two very different times in her life. One mugshot from the King County Jail in 2005 depicts her in her most worst state. The other depicts her happy while wearing her cap and gown.
She wrote: “Today I’ve let go of feeling insecure about my age, the lines on my face, my genetics, my failures, and imposter syndrome to recognize that no matter what, if I’m still breathing, I can do anything I set my mind to. Graduating at 48 from the Political Science department at the University of Washington Seattle is a real accomplishment for this former quitter.”
Having read this woman’s tale of the lowest lows and the ulimate redemption, one simply can’t help but be inspired.
As for Ginny, she told Eric Johnson of Local12: “My story isn’t an accident.
“I think it will be used for everybody else. Maybe I can be some kind of Pied Piper, to help peoprecover their own lives. That’s what I care about. There are some days that I wish I could just slip away here, with a garden, and open up a little cafe. But in reality I know it’s my job to continue to create hope.”
What an exquisitely lovely tale. Ginny, congratulations; you provide a great example for those who are enduring hardship.
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