Las Vegas is a place where people can reinvent themselves, and for most people, the reinvention occurs by way of a new job or a new place to live. But for others, the changes are quite profound.
Take Terri Williams; a 42-year-old woman’s whose previous life led her down the dark tunnel of drugs and prostitution. But for the first time in Williams’ life she has a good job, a car, and a place to live.
For the last quarter century, Williams has scratched out a living on the mean streets of Las Vegas as a prostitute addicted to cocaine. Williams said she had even been arrested more than 80 times.
“To feed my habit was anywhere from $300-$1,200 a day,” Williams said.
Williams said it wasn’t until her 40th birthday that the light finally came on for her. She said it happened when she found herself sharing a jail cell with classmates of her daughter she hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.
“And they were telling me all these amazing things about my child that I didn’t know because I hadn’t seen her in so long,” Williams said
A local judge saw potential in Williams and offered her a chance at WIN Court, an 18-month sober living program where repeat offenders hold jobs and learn life skills.
“It’s like she saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself,” Williams said.
Williams is scheduled to graduate and leave the sober living house next week, and it’s all because someone took the time to teach her that addiction is a disease from which you can break free.
Williams said it was something that she did not think was possible.
“I had no clue, that’s what leaves me awestruck, like, this is why I keep making these decisions,” said Williams.
Williams said she doesn’t blame anyone for her lost years. However, she can’t help but think back to when she was a child. According to Williams, she never learned how to live during her time spent in foster care as a child.
“I was in at least 12 different homes within five years,” Williams said. “At the end — when I became an adult, I was let go into the world, and I knew nothing about the world. So I’d just exist in the world instead of living, but now — today I’m living.”
WIN Court, which is overseen by Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Leung, will hold its 31st graduation Thursday afternoon where Williams will receive her diploma.