After being diagnosed with a few chronic health issues, Jessica became addicted to opioids which subsequently led to incarceration in Lancaster County Prison. At that time, she was pregnant with her first child and due to be released in April. Knowing that she wanted a better life for herself and her child, she spoke to the prison chaplain and a family advocate of Compass Mark, where she learned about Beth Shalom.
Jessica met with Lenara, Beth Shalom’s program coordinator, completed her application and in a few weeks was accepted into the program. She moved into her apartment at Beth Shalom directly from prison, and her son Wyatt was born a month later. Jessica admits, “When you leave prison, it’s incredibly hard to get back on your feet. It can be overwhelming, especially since I’m on disability and not able to work full-time. With Beth Shalom, though, I’ve been given an opportunity to rebuild my life and build a better future for myself and my son, and I have hope for the future. Tabor has offered safe, stable housing, is helping me fix my credit issues, helping me set goals, and helping me stay on track to accomplish these goals.”
Jessica is busy working on her new life. She attends church and Bible study, meets with Lenara once a week, receives mental health counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, attends parenting classes and will be enrolling in one of the financial educational workshops offered by Tabor.
Wyatt’s father is involved in Jessica and Wyatt’s life, and her immediate family provides emotional support during her new journey. Lenara shares, “Jessica is doing a good job as a first-time mom, and the support she receives from her family has been instrumental in her journey.”
When asked what advice she would offer others who have ‘walked in her shoes,’ she says, “Don’t give up; have hope; keep fighting; keep trying. The only thing that can hold you back is yourself. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Learn to love yourself again.”
Jessica’s immediate goals are to get a part-time job, find permanent housing and become self-sufficient. She wants people to know that she is a strong person with a good heart and is incredibly blessed to be part of Beth Shalom program.