“I got sober 2002. I’ve been sober for 15 years. That’s part of my thing… I love homeless people. I help them anyway I can. I feed them; I give them water, whatever. My son is out there too. God is telling me to do this.” – Rebecca Ganter
My name is Rebecca Ganter and I live here in Gallup. I have lived here quite a long time. My mom was from Roswell and my dad was from here [Gallup]. I grew up here [Gallup].
Growing up in Gallup
There’s been a lot of changes here [Gallup]. When I was young it wasn’t like this, it was a lot different.
We use to play kick ball [growing up] and all kinds of stuff, I don’t see the kids doing that anymore. I guess because they are not raised like that. There wasn’t much stuff for us to do, so we would do what we could. Do what we could or find what we could.
Growing up in Gallup was good. I grew up and went to grade school, junior high, and high school, and I went to Catholic school. From Catholic school I went to a public school. It has all changed now, it’s way different then it was then. There is probably more crime, more drugs; now there is more crime and drugs than there was before. Maybe because it’s a small town.
I got sober 2002. I’ve been sober for 15 years. That’s part of my thing… I love homeless people. I help them anyway I can. I feed them; I give them water, whatever. My son is out there too. God is telling me to do this. When I got sober, I stayed sober. I had a hard time at first, than I got it. I started doing the steps, I started getting involved. Part of that is helping people understand not to drink and drug. So that’s what I used to do; I did it for a long time.
I got sick. I use to drink a lot. After my mom died, I got really bad and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I started drinking. And I drank a lot. One day I went into this bar and I only had one beer, that’s all I had, and all of a sudden I just fell to the floor. It was crazy. I got alcohol poisoning. From there on I told myself that I gotta quit. And I didn’t know how to do it at first. When I did it, I talked to this guy and he told me why I didn’t go to AA with them. They are gone, those guys, already. I started going to AA and I liked it. I didn’t care what nobody said about me or whatever. I see people drunk… and I can’t smell it no more (laughter). It’s crazy because if I get next to somebody I get real weird.
I went to 15 years, maybe 16, to AA… now I have cooled down a little bit. I am not going as much as I was. But I stay sober. As long as I pray & ask God to help me.
I was in my 40s [when I got sober]. I said to myself, “I can’t live like this.” And then my dad has alzheimers. It was sad. I had to change. I was homeless myself. When I was homeless, I lived in the streets too. Not all the time, but there was a place up there where we use to live. We would sleep in the day and come out in the night. I mean… sleep in the night and come out in the day. It was alright… we had a good time… I met a lot of people. I tried to help a lot of people there too, when I got sober. I got my own place and then I moved over here. I like it, but they are changing all the rules now.
I just stay sober myself and do it myself.
I have it in my heart already that I won’t go back [to drinking]. But you never know… I could be tempted. There’s always temptation out there. There’s always somebody saying, “hey let’s go have a drink.” I may say, “yes,” or “no.” I always say to myself, “no, no!” It’s already in my mind that I can’t do it. Thank god! It’s always a battle to fight. You never know when you are going to go out. I have fifteen years, I ain’t going to erase them! I don’t want to start all over again.
I live on top and I pay $400 a month [rent]. But I got income. I get social security. At the beginning it was kind of hard for me. I do it by doing odd stuff. I use to make rosaries. I use to make blankets. I would sell them. I use to do a lot of things to make money. That’s how I use to do it. Till I got ASSI. I am disabled. I just had a hip replacement.
Healing by Helping
It’s through AA [Alcoholics Anonymous]. I do help a lot of people out. A lot of people come and ask me questions. “How can I get sober?” And I help them.
If you get a DWI, they make you go to AA. They have that already here. But they have to be stronger about it. Stronger rules about it [alcohol]. I use to sign papers when I was doing AA, but it’s really up to you if you want to sign their paper. If they didn’t come to the meetings, I didn’t sign them. They use to get mad at me. A lot of them do though. I use to tell them, “don’t sign their papers.” They have to learn someway.
Last week they had the Cinco de Mayo and it started raining and pouring. I have friend who told me to go into the bar to get out of the rain. And we went in and I felt funny, funny, funny. I don’t know what it was. I said, “we can’t stay in here. Let’s just go!” We went to the house and I kept her there for a while. Her family is not good with her. I just felt sorry for her.
There’s a lot of people who need help. We tried to help this guy that lived with us… my friend Jennifer and me… we use to talk to him and he wouldn’t listen to us. I would tell him to just be careful. And one day they threw him out and I don’t know what happened after that. I guess he got a place or whatever… and a car hit him. And I felt so, so bad that we didn’t help him. It makes me sad that I couldn’t help him more. That he couldn’t understand what we were telling him. I try to express myself as much as I can. I try to help people that I could help. I help a lot of people. I help a lot of people in my community.
I do help the homeless. We need more people to do it. A lot of people just think of themselves they don’t think of all the other people. Sometimes too it’s a lot of drama, as they say. So they don’t do it. I get on Facebook and I hear all this stuff. Before I didn’t like Facebook… 1st time I got on it, it was like that [drama]. It’s still like that. I got a bunch of people that I could talk to. I do talk to a lot of people on Facebook too. All over the place.
Gallup and Beyond
I want to move to Albuquerque. That’s one of my goals pretty soon. I just want to get away from here [Gallup]. I got a friend over there. Something different.
I lived in Albuquerque when I was about 23. I have a friend, but he used to drink a lot. I had to try to get away from him and I couldn’t. It was hard. It was hard for me because he brought me his kids and I couldn’t just let them go. I couldn’t let them go. I had a child from him too so… mine was the last one. Now I go there… and I talk to them. I still talk to them. I have no fear against them or nothing like that. I know he will help me in different ways. I use to talk to him… oh my god! You have no idea how much I use to talk to him to get sober! And finally he did. On his own. He did it on his own.
Gallup is a nice town. A lot of people do come from different places that are homeless. Most of the time they don’t help them. I wish there was something for them to help them like that [mental health]. That’s what they need the most in Gallup. I know there’s places you can go… but I have never tried to help them out like that. You never know, they may turn on you.
There is a lot of drunk people… sorry to tell you, but there is. I use to go talk to them, especially the girls. And I would show them my strength and experience and what I went through. I went through a lot… being in New Mexico… being in Gallup. I like Gallup, there is nothing wrong with Gallup. I think I needed change. I would like to go help Albuquerque too, because there is a lot… I met a lot of good people that are around. I don’t hang around junks. I don’t hang around people that drink. I can’t. I changed my life a lot. I changed everything around me.