Lolita's Story

Lolita: An Independent Successful
Graduate of Front Steps Housing and Services

Lolita Thomas was born in Alabama but has lived in Cleveland for most of her life. She and her family moved to Cleveland when she was 18 months old. Now at 52 years of age she is an independent, successful woman.

She became part of the Front Steps family in 2011 when it was still called Transitional Housing. At the time she was 47 and had a two-year old daughter.

In 2012, after fighting through a number of challenges, she completed her time at Front Steps and moved into her own home. 

I am grateful to Front Steps for their support in this training.


Lolita has been on her own since she was 12. That is when she began to live on the streets. Early on she discovered that alcohol was an effective resource for escaping feelings of separation, inadequacy, and fear, which were a result of her challenging home environment. The alcohol was an exit out of the pain she was experiencing but, as is always the case, it was simply masking the real problem. The street environment was abusive and forced her to find ways to survive, all while the disease of alcoholism was progressing; anger became the only emotion she could express.

As she was working through the various external resources available to her, she realized the “change needed to be on the inside, not the outside.” The institutions with which she was working were not built for her; she did not belong there so she made the decision to change and find help elsewhere.

One day she stopped into a coffee shop to get warm and she met a woman who was writing. She struck up a conversation and asked her what she was writing. The woman’s response was that it was a goodbye letter to her addiction. She was also writing the addiction’s rebuttal. The rebuttal made Lolita cry; the addiction said "I am going to get you, you can’t break free." Lolita’s tears were because this was the same disease that had her in its grip.

She started to focus on her meetings but was staying with family. Ultimately she needed to stay at a shelter where she could get more consistent help. The shelter she used was able to get her an interview at Transitional Housing (Front Steps). Transitional Housing accepted her and she stayed in the program for a year.

The staff listened to her and helped her get through programs for both her addiction and to assist with her job readiness. While her past made getting a job difficult, with encouragement and support, she persevered and got her first opportunity at a business near Transitional Housing in Ohio City. The team also helped her manage her money so that she was able to move into her first apartment where she has been with her daughter, successfully, for four years.

Since leaving Front Steps, she has returned to join the Front Steps staff as part of the facilities team and has worked with the team for more than 14 months. She has also taken additional classes at Y-HAVEN Transitional Housing and Treatment where she became the first female Valedictorian. Over and above these programs Lolita has also earned two associates degrees, on Liberal Arts and one in Business.

Lolita's Favorites:

- Entertainment: Stand Up Comedy
- Music: Deitrick Haddon (Gospel)
- Movie: Arthur
- Candy: Milk Chocolate
- Clothing: Leather Coats and Boots
- Table Games: Scrabble