The path that led her to Beth Shalom was long and rocky. From drug use leading to theft, to parole violations and jail time, to Vantage House for substance abuse treatment, and finally to Beth Shalom, Heather has come a long way and is now reunited with one of her daughters.
Having spent more time in prison than out since 2006, and admitting to being through rehab over 20 times, Heather says, “It’s embarrassing to say, but its been a long road.”
She does not let embarrassment or shame dictate her recovery, however. Instead she is focused on finding employment, making her court appearances and parole appointments, “the biggest thing now is to maintain my sobriety and reunite with my kids and be an active mother in their lives.”
Program coordinator Lenara Porter notes, “She is always ready for the meetings, always on time. Always a pleasant attitude, very grateful; that will make a difference with her outcome.”
Several months in, she is adjusting nicely to life here. “It was a blessing to get into a program like this. It’s given me confidence, a clean slate, and to get integrated into the community because I’ve been so institutionalized, this gives me structure, rules, and regulations to follow.
Much of this guidance is provided by Lenara, who, as Heather says, “is always there. She’s resourceful, supportive…a special woman.” Lenara returned the compliment, saying that Heather is a “grateful young lady. [She] embraces the program…She’s maintained her recovery and her spiritual walk.”
Knowing that there is a support structure in place has been quite helpful for both Heather and her daughter Katelyn, a High School student studying Nursing. “I want [my children] to be happy and to know that they are loved” says Heather.
“It’s a blessing to be with my Mom” interjects Katelyn, who attends both church and NA meetings with her mother. “It’s really the only thing I’ve wanted is to see my mom clean and on her feet.”
“I think it makes her feel confident too” says Heather of their shared time in church and support groups. “I’ve let her down so much and she sees others have made it through.”
Lenara explains that a good predictor of success for those parents in the program with older children is the ability to reunite with them. “They tend to do better in the program if they can do that.”
Both mother and daughter take comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone.
“For many years I’ve been distant from God. But I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for God. I like that they help me with my relationship to God.
“A lot of times I just prayed to God to show me the way…I’m just learning the Bible now, and attending In the Light Ministries. I like their services.”
Grateful for another chance at redemption after a long journey, Heather reflects: “This whole program is a great program. I wish they had more like this for other women. It’s nice to have someone in your corner keeping you focused on where you want to go.”
Heather keeps the future in the front of her mind, but also lets past experiences stand as lessons, “This time I want it. All the other times, I was just going through the motions.”
“I did a lot of soul searching, thinking where I’ve been and what will become of me,” says Heather. “I have to lead by example.”