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A second chance in Eagle Point

EAGLE POINT — Making amends for her own darkest days, a former addict who wreaked havoc on the community for four years is hoping to spread some Christmas cheer to members of the community devastated by a year of pandemic and fires.

Eagle Point resident Jessica Robertson has launched “Santa’s Angels” this holiday season to help match families in need with those wanting to spread holiday cheer.

“There’s a lot of need, and it’s a time that we need to help our community and our fellow neighbors,” said the mother of four. Robertson, who recently celebrated 18 months of being clean and sober, is hosting the effort with her ex-husband’s new wife.

The woman, Alex Robertson, raised three of Jessica’s children while their mother battled addiction and made local headlines for various crimes.

“I wanted to find a way to give back to the community because I’ve caused so much havoc in this community and because there are so many people struggling right now. Giving back is something that makes me really happy, even before I was in my addiction,” she said.

Robertson’s remembers her own family benefiting from the generosity of holiday gift trees when she was growing up. With her children back in her life and a new baby, Robertson said she is excited to show she can do good.

In the past few weeks, dozens of families have reached out — to help and to be helped, she said. Families in need range from families displaced by wildfires to others who have lost income and stability due to the pandemic.

While she’s proud of her life now, Robertson, 35, said her name, at one point, was synonymous with drama, crime and drug use. Her spiral began in 2016 when her former husband was deployed overseas, and post partem depression, coupled with caring for newborn twins and a toddler, pushed her over the edge.

“I was kind of hanging on by my teeth, and I let the wrong people into my life. I was on pain medication, and that’s when all the doctors had to start cutting back on the pain medication. Things just fell apart,” she said.

“I was super sick from the opioid withdrawals. I had no idea what heroin even was, but I had someone offer me a medicine refill and she ended up giving me heroin. She said, ‘I don’t have the pills, but I have this.’ My thought was, ‘My kids need me. I have to figure out how to function.’ I was just so lost at the time, weak, willing to do whatever. ... My first taste of heroin was in October 2016, and I was lodged on huge charges by March.”

Robertson spent at least a year in jail and twice as long racking up other charges.

“I was arrested something like 27 times. I was in jail more than out of jail, and I so badly wanted to be done,” she said.

Jackson County Recovery Opportunity Court gave Robertson the tools and options she needed to reclaim her life.

“After spending a year in Jackson County Jail, I pleaded into the ROC program, which saved my life. They offered me something I hadn’t had — a chance,” she recalled.

“I could’ve gone to prison and done eight or nine months and come right back to the same life. ROC court 100% saved my life.”

Alex Robertson conceded that her unlikely pal had caused a lot of pain, but she said she is proud to be part of her recovery.

“I know it’s a weird dynamic that most people don’t understand. For four years, I was raising her kids completely. When you’re in addiction, you wreak — her words — ‘havoc’ on everyone in your life and everyone connected to you.

“Everything she did we always took personally, because it was hard not to. I always just let her know that, even though I didn’t agree with how she was living, I told her, ‘When you are ready to do this, I’ll be there and your kids will be there.’ They deserved that chance to know their mom, even when she didn’t deserve that.”

The devoted stepmom kept her word, showing up to court hearings, tending to the children of both women and teaching her how to mother her own children when she made her way back.

“When she asked me to be part of this project, I felt like it was a way to show other addicts in recovery that, first of all, recovery is possible,” she said.

“But also that you can create relationships with your family again and be back in their lives. And this was a good way for her to right some of the wrong. I’m really excited for her to do this. It’s helping our family as much as it will help others.”

She added, “She has a big heart, and I’m just happy to see her get back to who she is.”

To receive help or to adopt a family, email the women at santas.angels2020@gmail.com.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Jessica Robertson and Alex Robertson load Christmas gifts Thursday in Eagle Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune