From 2006-2008, Jenn participated in two of Tabor’s housing programs. Recently, she reached out to us. In her email, she wrote, “I would love to share my story of success with others and what my life is now, so just wondering if it’s possible ... I want others to know that there is hope.” In talking with Jenn, we are thankful to have played a part in the hope and success that she has today.
Growing up, Jenn was surrounded by negative influences. Many people close to her abused drugs and alcohol. A lot of her family members battled with addiction. She saw that and thought, “I’m never doing that, I don’t want to deal with drugs, it’s not my thing,” but as time progressed, she too struggled with addiction.
Looking back at one of the hardest times in her life, Jenn recounts about her dad, “He tried to save me; he tried to help me. He came and threw out [of my apartment] a guy and my needles” In a drug-induced state, Jenn said some very hurtful things to her dad. The next day she got a call that he was in the hospital. Wanting to make things right with him because he was her biggest advocate, she entered the hospital knowing that she needed to apologize. Unfortunately, he had a heart attack and had already passed away.
Reflecting on that time in her life, Jenn recounts, “It only made my drug addiction worse. I’m homeless, I’m stealing, I’m out doing horrible things that I was not raised to do. I went on a four-year heroin binge. I just didn’t care.”
Jenn’s life then took a drastic turn. “I thought that I was pregnant, but I wasn’t sure. So I said I’m turning myself in. I had to leave, and I had to go to jail because I knew that I wasn’t clean, and if I was responsible for someone else’s life, I couldn’t let that happen to my kid.”
Upon her release, she went to a treatment program where most of the women were a bit older than she was. Jenn recounts, “They’ve lost all their children and would never get them back.” That was not the future that Jenn wanted to create for herself or her family.
Jenn then participated in several housing and addiction programs in Lancaster. She saw their value and was thankful for their support because they helped keep her away from drugs and provided a place for her family to stay, but she still sometimes struggled with maintaining permanent housing and at one point during this time, ended up in a shelter.
In continuing to take ownership of her life, wanting the best for her family, she heard about Tabor and reached out. “Then one day I get a phone call from Lenara (who is still a Tabor employee today) saying that we have a place for you. I remember falling and crying ... I was not going to be homeless anymore,” and thirteen years later, looking at her beautiful new apartment where she and her two daughters live, she proudly claims, “I never was.” Jenn remembers, at Tabor, “Lenara laid it down, told you how things were going to be. You have to listen; you have to take care of your kids, go to classes and meetings. She told you how it was.”
As Jenn's life continued to improve, she got a job through CareerLink working with adults with developmental disabilities. “Helping people has been my thing. I want to help people because people have helped me in my life. I’m raising my kids the same way.” Over the years, Jenn has had several other jobs and regularly works more than one job. Still wanting to help others, Jenn knew that a local school district was hiring for a position in an autistic support classroom. She applied, was hired as a part-time employee this spring, and just started this fall in a full-time role. She loves working with the students, feels well supported as an employee, and has good relationships with her peers.
Being in a good place in life, enjoying her work, being the mom that she wants to be for her two daughters, Jenn is still setting goals for her future. Her next step is to purchase a home. “I want to show my kids that I can get stuff done … I want my kids to see that hard work pays off. I want them to know that you have to work hard to get what you want in life.” In hearing her journey, understanding the adversity that she faced, knowing that she has been drug free for over 14 years, and seeing the success that she has had through her hard work and determination, if that is what Jenn plans to do, it will get done.
Today, Jenn still holds the memory of her dad close to her. With where she was to where she is today, she shares, “I know that he is proud of what I have become.” In just the few moments that we were able to share with Jenn on the porch of her beautiful apartment, we are also proud of what she has accomplished and are excited for what her future holds.