SEATTLE – Ginny Burton was addicted to heroin and crack and was convicted of 17 crimes. She was homeless and lived on the streets of Seattle.
Now 48 years old, she has overcome it all. She will graduate from the University of Washington on Saturday.
“It’s possible, if I can do it, anyone can,” Ginny Burton said.
Burton was arrested more than 20 times, desperate to feed his drug addicts. She did everything from identity theft to assault to armed robbery and even theft from drug dealers.
After being in every woman’s prison in the state, something changed in 2012.
“I looked at my fourth prison sentence and made a decision. The moment I got into the police car. Thats it. I was done and I was super grateful that I had been arrested because I knew it would give me an opportunity to change my life, ”Burton said.
She earned her time, got clean and came out with new dreams. In 2016, mother of three went back to school. Now she wants to graduate from UW with a degree in political science. She will begin graduate school at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance this fall.
“I plan to try to change politics, change politics in the prison system, change politics in our homeless systems and start trying to put some experience into the way things are run,” Burton said.
Bellevue Police Officer Craig Hanaumi heard Ginny’s story.
“In our line of work we meet many Ginnys, we meet many people in different age groups, the common denominator is addiction,” said Officer Hanaumi.
He invited her to visit the department earlier this year to inspire officers.
“It’s a little therapeutic for us because we do not get to see the good things. We meet people at their lowest point, ”said Officer Hanaumi.
On Thursday, the unlikely new friends met back at the police and tried some jiu-jitsu in the gym.
Burton is at the top and still climbing. When she was afraid of heights, she began mountaineering four years ago. She has already climbed Mount Rainier. This summer, she and her mentor are leading a group up the mountain.
Burton knows she beat the odds and wants others to see that it is possible. She says she saw a friend overcome addiction and it gave her strength.
“I had to think I could do it too, and I think that’s what I give the world,” she said.
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