Hard times don’t discriminate and Leah Cleff is a walking testimony of that.
"Almost 20 years ago, I had a house, a nice house, I was divorced from an attorney, a local attorney and I had 17 leg surgeries,” Cleff said.
She became addicted to pain killers, spiraling her into an addiction to crack cocaine. It didn’t take long for her to hit rock bottom.
“I saw this small window of opportunity to go to the hood and get some crack,” Cleff said. "I got attacked and had my son on the ride with me and the next day, he went to school and didn't come home, the police had him."
She lost her home and bounced between staying at the library, sleeping at the cemetery and staying with friends.
Each holiday, she found herself alone.
"At least 10, at least 10, by myself,” Cleff said.
When she found Center of Hope in Ravenna, her luck turned around and with the help of Catholic Charities, she was able to take a big step.
"I don't think I've ever seen anyone so excited the day that she got the keys to her new apartment,” Anne Marie Noble, director of the program, said.
"I thought once I get my place, I'm not gonna be alone on the holidays again,” Cleff said. “Not one more year."
On Thanksgiving Day, as a sign of gratitude, Cleff is opening her door at 3 p.m. to anyone who doesn’t have a home.
“We're having ham and turkey,” Cleff said. "Nothing fancy, but there'll be food there."
She said it was a community effort to put together a feast fit for kings and queens that may be forgotten over the holiday.
"I got friends that are gonna be cooking and Center of Hope has bought me supplies,” Cleff said.
"My church has donated the table and the chairs and it's coming together."
Though things are looking up, she said she’ll never forget where she came from.
"It's hard to watch everybody go down the street and they have their nice clothes on and you're just there with no place to go.”
People who know Cleff call her a light in a world that can be so dark for so many and her motto speaks to that very point: "Just because they don't have anything, doesn't mean they're nothing."