News & Events

Life at The Ruth House: Ramona Mata

October 15, 2017

By BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner staff

Ramona Mata's journey into addiction began at 17, when she started abusing prescription pain medications and then moved on the heroin.

After dropping out of high school, having her three children taken away and a stint in jail, Ramona ended up at The Ruth House and became one of their success stories. She has been drug-free for six months.

Standard-Examiner photographer Benjamin Zack documented Ramona's stay in The Ruth House over the course of several months. The following are just some of the many images he captured, accompanied by audio clips from Ramona as she describes her story.

Click the grey text to play and listen to Ramona describe how her battle with addiction began.

“I had a good life growing up. My mom and dad, they’d never done drugs. They were good parents, you know? We moved to Roy and I started getting prescriptions of pain pills and then I started taking them, like, a lot. And then I went to heroin. It was after my dad died.”

Ramona Mata prepares her daughter's Angel, left, and Angelina for church during a brief family visit at The Genesis Project on May 7, 2017. Ramona moved into the Ruth House in April after losing her daughters and getting arrested on drug and child endangerment charges. Ramona sought out the house while looking for a way to stay clean and find a path to reunite with her children.
Ramona Mata waits as her daughters Andrea, left, and Angel look through photos they found of themselves in their mother's room during a visit to the Ruth House on May 7, 2017. Ramona's three daughters were placed in foster care after she was arrested for drug and child endangerment charges. After getting out of jail, they had weekly visits at a state office, but they received permission to have longer visits at home after Ramona moved into the Ruth House. "It's hard, but I'm doing it for my kids and myself," said Ramona. "I want my kids in my life and I don't want to mess up again."
Recovery pastor Jay Salas offers a prayer before Ramona Mata's baptism at The Genesis Project on May 19, 2017. Salas works with a variety of recovery programs tied to The Genesis Project including the Ruth House.
Ramona Mata chats with a potential landlord while looking for a place to live on July 26, 2017. The treatment programs with the Ruth House helped Ramona secure more regular visits with her daughters, but she needed to find her own place to live before her children could move back in with her.

Ramona lost custody of her children more than a year ago. Here, she describes why getting them back is her primary motivation to stay sober:

“It’s hard, but I’m doing it for my kids and myself. I want my kids in my life. I don’t wanna mess up again because my kids do mean a lot, everything, to me. (..) I don’t want them to be like me. I don’t.”

Angelina holds onto her mother, Ramona Mata, while they stand alongside her sisters at The Genesis Project on Aug. 28, 2017. "I don't want them to be like me," said Ramona. "I want them to come home. They'll be with their mom and be happy again."
Donated furniture fills the back of a trailer as Ramona Mata prepares to move out of the Ruth House on Aug. 1, 2017. The programs at the Ruth House are designed to last around six months. For Mata, finding her own place to live was a requirement for trying to regain custody of her daughters, so she left early but stayed involved with the church and her treatment programs.
Ramona Mata looks out the door of her new home in South Ogden after moving in with her mother, Melanie Mata, left, on Aug. 1, 2017.
Ramona Mata chases her daughters and other children with a hose during a housewarming party at her new place in South Ogden on Aug. 13, 2017. After moving, Mata was able to have her children over for multiple days while waiting for a court decision on their permanent placement.

Ramona describes what her life is like now that she's graduated from The Ruth House. 

“Well, I moved out of the Ruth House in August. (...) I have a job. I did all my classes I’m supposed to get my girls back. My life now is just: Work. Come home. Work. Come home. Classes. You know, all that. I really enjoy it actually. It feels good to be on my own.”

Pastors and Ruth House staff pray over Ramona Mata, second from right, and her housemate Stephanie Bryant, second from left, during their graduation ceremony at The Genesis Project on Aug. 27, 2017.
Ramona Mata runs around outside of The Genesis Project with her daughter, Angel, on her back after Ramona's graduation from the Ruth House on Aug. 27, 2017. In September, Ramona's daughters moved back in with her, one year after they were split up.


Listen to more stories from the women of The Ruth House