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Pasco County woman becomes the first graduate of GRACE House, an addiction recovery program

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Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 26, 2021

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Melissa Heide is about to graduate from a program she says saved her life.

“I was drinking very heavily for two years. Extremely heavily," Heide said.

Melissa says she hit rock bottom when she crashed her car into a house.

“I knew alcohol controlled me. I just didn’t know how bad it was until I get the DUI," Heide said.

She also ended up in the ICU with her liver failing from the alcohol abuse. But eventually, Melissa found GRACE House, a nonprofit that helps those with addiction issues.

Rachel Starostin runs the program.

“She was completely broken, that gift of desperation hit her. She couldn’t even put words together," said Starostin.

The program combines spiritual guidance with counseling and classes to help people get back to the real world.

It clicked for Melissa and she will be GRACE House’s first graduate.

“You just have to believe in yourself. Have a little mustard seed of faith because that’s what I had," said Heide.

Melissa has reconnected with her family and she has a job at One Community Now helping others who need it.

“There’s a lot of struggles out there and being willing to help. I just love doing that," said Heide.

Melissa also will continue to support others at GRACE House, as someone who knows exactly what they are going through.