From Death to New Life

About two and a half years ago on an unsuspecting fall morning, a state park ranger discovered a woman slumped over the steering wheel of her parked car. The night prior, this woman had attempted to end a pain-filled life by combining alcohol and prescription drugs. The unresponsive woman was rushed to the hospital where she would remain unconscious until she awoke two days later.

That woman was Holly Markel, who today runs the CityReach Hope Home for women in Cumberland, Maryland.


Holly began drinking when she was 14 years old. She soon got into trouble with the law and was sent away to an all-girls adolescent rehab program. That was the beginning of a struggle with drugs and alcohol that would last a large part of Holly’s life.

After graduating from high school, in an attempt to separate herself from negative influences surrounding her life, Holly joined the military. However, it was not long before Holly began drinking again and quickly became dependant on alcohol. Following her service in the military, Holly struggled for many years to stay sober, but instead of freeing herself from the grips of drinking, she added drugs to cope with daily living.


“I eventually got involved with a drug dealer and started using crack cocaine. I was in and out of rehabs and psych hospitals – I don’t even know how many times,” Holly says. When Holly became pregnant with her third child, she got clean and things were looking up. But four weeks before the birth of her son, the baby’s father overdosed and died, later ruled a suicide. This loss crushed Holly and again she turned to drugs and alcohol to mask the pain.

Hopeless, Holly surrounded herself with other people who were using, battled for custody of her kids, and continued to encounter deep depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. After many years, Holly felt her struggles get the best of her and attempted suicide.

“Death was following me around and I didn’t want to live anymore. Everything was a mess. I had no life left in me.”– Holly


Holly’s family and friends staged an intervention and pleaded with her to get professional help. A pastor connected her with CITYREACH NETWORK and the next day – one month after the park ranger found her unconscious – Holly moved into a CityReach Hope Home located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For the first few months in the Hope Home, Holly held on to her anger and refused to let anyone into her life. But slowly God started to soften her heart and show her how to heal the pains of her past. Then, one day during a church service, the walls that confined her to the pain and anguish of so many years of loss, regret, and depression came down. Holly rededicated her life to Christ.

“I felt something new in me, the life I hadn’t felt for a long time.”– Holly


Holly graduated from the Hope Home later that year. She returned home to Maryland where she was able to reconnect with her family, most notably her three sons. God began to restore relationships that she thought were gone forever.

About a year after her graduation, Holly felt a tugging on her heart and began to pray for direction on what God now wanted her to do with her life. God provided the answer with an opportunity: she would lead and manage a new Hope Home in Cumberland, Maryland. Today, she is helping women overcome the same challenges and addictions that kept her hostage for most of her life.

Years ago, Holly was ready to die, but God had other plans. He has given new life to Holly and is using her to offer the same hope to others.

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2018-01-17T00:22:00+00:00 March 15th, 2016|Hope Homes, Stories|