I grew up in a single parent home. I never knew who my father was. We were often homeless. I was surrounded by drug and alcohol addiction. During my childhood, I was molested by my babysitter for over a year. I later became involved with prostitution. I was a victim of rape multiple times, including an assault by a boyfriend. My life was defined by turmoil and abuse.
I was twenty-one years old, when I became pregnant. I went to Life Choices Pregnancy Clinic, where I found out that not only was I four weeks pregnant but that I was having twins. At the time, I had nothing. I was homeless and struggling with addictions. I was with the babies’ father, but I was not in a safe place and suffering from sexual abuse and a domestic violence situation.
After my appointment, they gave me a packet of resources, and in there was Step By Step’s number. What a life changing day that was. Little did I know, it was the first day of a long journey to a new me and a new life.
Step By Step has always gone above and beyond to help me. They have helped me find housing. They gave me food baskets, diapers, formula, and baby clothes, when I had none. I had case managers who met with me regularly. They helped me with transportation to get to and from job interviews and medical appointments. They gave me counseling. They provided me with parenting and life skills classes, which have been essential to me, where I was able to learn new skills to apply to my and my family’s lifestyle.
Over the next few years, I went through four pregnancies. After the twin boys, I became pregnant with my third son, then another set of twins, girls this time, and finally my youngest daughter.
Step By Step was there through everything. They gave me support and hope, when I had none. During my first pregnancy, Katherine, more than a few times, came out in the middle of her day or night to pick me up off the streets. Dori helped me learn that twin boys are not impossible. Sarah walked alongside me during the worst part of my life, when I lost one of my twin daughters to SIDS. They helped me get into domestic violence shelters, when I finally made the decision to get out of an abusive situation. And, last but not least, Robyn has been a friend and a support for over 12 years now. This woman is priceless. She is an asset to me in everything I do. She even drove me to the hospital, when I went into labor with my youngest daughter. It is actually my favorite memory of her. It was the first pregnancy I had where from start to finish I was clean and sober. I wasn’t worried about the doctor finding out when and what drug I had used. I wasn’t worried about where me and my baby would come home to. I had a safe, stable, drug and alcohol free home for the first time in my whole life.
My time with Step By Step has been, and continues to be, a vital source of stability for me. It has always been ablessing. The biggest impact that Step By Step, in all its entirety, has had is that they have never given up on me. No matter what I have said, done, or the lack thereof, whether I made good or bad choices they have never stopped believing in me and my capabilities. I’ve put them through hell probably and back again. But, they never gave up on me. They have always been there to encourage me to be my best and to remind me of hope in times where I could not see the end of turmoil.
It has been a long road for me, but I have come so far from where I started. I have always said that I look forward to the day when I can give everything they have given me back to somebody else. I have been a volunteer with Step By Step now for almost eleven years, everything from helping with the annual summer BBQ and Christmas parties, to working in the office to gain employment skills, heading up my own team for the 5k fundraiser, and helping with diaper drives. I am also now a member of their Housing Board and help support their program to provide transitional housing and prevent homelessness for at-risk moms.
A few weeks ago, I landed my first career job as a certified peer counselor working with mentally and physically vulnerable adults. This is the first time in my life of thirty-four years, where I am financially able to not receive state benefits. I am super excited to continue to work and provide for my family.
My dream for my future is to continue to grow my social services career. I look forward to continuing my education at Pierce College, where I hope to obtain my AA degree in social services.
I am determined to strive to do my best at all times, no matter how good or bad the situation is.
For my children, my hope and dream for them is to provide a safe home, where they can be who they are. I want to show them unconditional love and support, so they will have a better start to life and into adulthood than I had, that they will not repeat the generational cycle of brokenness that I experienced. Today, my kids are happy and that makes me happy. My kids are healthy, and that’s all I can ask for.
Step By Step is amazing. Life saving. A blessing. They’ve saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today and be the woman and the mother I am, if it wasn’t for them. I think of a lot of the staff of Step By Step as my family. I’m very thankful.
Lastly, I just want to say, to other moms out there who are facing tough times, never lose hope. No matter how bleak or small you feel, remember it is only a season. Never stop trying to do your best. You can not change your past, but you can change your future and your children’s futures. One step at a time, you can do it!