Shante Miller didn’t expect she would make the jump from a plane under the current circumstances.

The 35-year-old has been clean for three years following a 12-year drug addiction, with some of that time spent in jail, detoxing and homeless. No, she didn’t believe that path would lead her to accomplish a childhood ambition.

Miller finally made the jump on Saturday, July 1, in Snohomish. She was one of six Housing Hope clients that participated in the second “Fill the Sky With Hope” benefit. The event raises funds for Housing Hope to connect unsheltered people living in Snohomish County with a roof, four walls and the skills to attain and maintain self-sufficiency.

Miller said she would complete the dive again, as she was freed from all earthly ties except the straps that bound her to Skydive Snohomish instructor Tony Parker. The Harvey family, who owns the Snohomish-based company located at Harvey Field, is a long-time Housing Hope donor.

The first benefit held last year raised $6,000 for the program, said Skydive Snohomish co-owner Elaine Harvey. A portion of each jump made that day went to Housing Hope. Many of the instructors opted to donate some of their own income. The event has allowed staff to more directly offer empowerment to clients, she said.

“It is just one of the most inspiring days that we have at the skydiving center each year, because we get to share this experience with the Housing Hope residents,” she said. “We are all just in awe of what they have worked so hard to overcome and all they have worked to accomplish despite the odds, and so we consider it a privilege and an honor to be a part of that growth and experience.”

The clients already show so much bravery in their daily lives, Harvey said. They are breaking cycles and attaining goals, some being the first in their family to do so, she said.

Miller said she leapt at the chance to make the jump. She recalls the training video, which basically told her, “this is not safe but you are going to have a good time.” She remembers seeing the mountains, farmland and valleys from above, but not many vivid thoughts.

“I am envisioning it now, the only thing I can say (I thought was) ‘God, please don’t detach from Tony, please don’t let me detach.’ ”

Miller grew up in Louisiana, and moved here from New Orleans in October 2016. It’s where she graduated high school, and took a few college courses. It’s where she had four children. It’s where she fled from an abusive relationship and chemical dependency. 

“You don’t focus on the things you are supposed to be focusing on,” she said. “I didn’t realize I wanted to help people until I tried to get clean.”

Miller’s hometown is also where she started to realize she didn’t want to live the life she was in anymore. She tried to get out of it — five times. Every time she relapsed.

“If you want to get your life together, starting from nothing, it is very, very hard to do,” she said.

Miller’s mother, Catherine Miller, said she knew about the people her daughter hung around. She worried when Miller was using, and when she was pregnant and living on the streets.

Catherine Miller moved to Washington more than a decade ago, displaced and fleeing from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She said she and Miller lost touch for some time, but periodic phone calls would come. Her daughter was often crying, and said she missed the family.

Miller realized it was hard to find the right resources in New Orleans. Even when she made the move to be closer to her mother she struggled to connect with the right supports to work toward self-sufficiency. Her mother stayed close but told Miller she would have to do the real work on her own.

“She just lived from place to place,” she said. “She lived in a tent in my yard, she stayed in a vehicle. I love her, but I had to let her know, ‘You have to want it. You have to really dig deep to want.’ ”

Miller said it has been a process, but her commitment to recovery and long-term goals are in clear view now. She eventually found Housing Hope, where she was able to qualify for temporary housing in March.

Housing Hope events and marketing manager Sara Haner said Miller’s engagement in the program’s services is why she was selected to skydive. She said the event is meant to be a celebration of the triumphs made by clients.

Housing Hope has operated in Snohomish County since 1987. The program was formed to provide different routes to connect local families with a home, Haner wrote in an email. There are 429 housing developments in the county that were built by 280 families through a sweat-equity program called Team HomeBuilding.

Miller is in a transitional unit at Housing Hope’s Monroe Family Village. She lives with her youngest daughter, Ja’Lyn, who is 2 1/2. Her two oldest daughters are with Miller’s mother in Lake Stevens, and her third oldest is in California with her cousin.

More than 90 percent of the families who ‘graduate’ from the transitional housing program go on to obtain long-term stable housing, and Shante will undoubtedly be one of them,” Haner wrote.

Miller’s mother said she has seen anxiety and fear crop up in her daughter from time to time. She has also continually heard Miller say she doesn’t want to go back to her previous life. Miller was recently accepted into the Innovations in Creating Access to Careers in Healthcare (iCatch) training program, which starts this fall. There she plans to get her associates degree to become a chemical dependency counselor.

“She is really special, and that’s why she was chosen for this (jump),” Haner said. “Not just to celebrate her accomplishments, but to honor the really hard work she is doing to turn her life around and going to school.”