TRUSTING SANTA MARIA CHANGES A FAMILY
On the edges of her life, Courtney had always used drugs recreationally. It wasn’t until her infant son Jacob died in his sleep, co-sleeping with his father that her use spiraled out of control. She could not stand the feelings of anger and despair caused by her grief. She felt she needed to numb her racing mind. And so, she did for two and a half years. She no longer cared for her daughter, Kylie in the loving way she had before. She compromised her own safety, and that of her daughter, as her dependence progressed. Courtney lost her moral compass, her determination and her soul.
It took an arrest for public intoxication and possession in 2014 that landed her in the Harris County jail to get her attention. It was there, as she detoxed without medical assistance from “whatever she could shoot into her veins” that she discovered she was pregnant. It was through that arrest, involvement with CPS and the introduction of a restorative option of treatment, that she came to Santa Maria. She arrived at her new residence depressed, angry with God and in denial about her real situation. She mistrusted the staff and could not believe they were on her side. She was often non-compliant with assignments, policies and procedures and prescribed routines. Early on, she was not making progress.
Eventually, new thinking started to surface. There was her family to consider. There was another baby on the way. Following the path of recovery, this baby could be born healthy and thrive. Also, with a clear head, she began to see how her decisions had affected Kylie’s life. Although Kylie was in the safe care of her grandparents, this vulnerable child, who had suffered so much from her mother’s absence, began to have serious emotional issues. It was in the loving and compassionate support that the SMH staff showed her daughter that Courtney finally realized she was in a place of help and hope not just for herself, but also for her children. She opened her mind and her heart and began to fully participate in everything that was offered. She continued with outpatient treatment for three months.
Today, on reflection, she feels like the unity with the other residents, the parenting classes, the 12 -step groups and the tenacity of her treatment team are the major contributors to her successful discharge. With the unbelievable care she received during her difficult pregnancy and the early birth of her baby girl, Courtney began to structure her life around her own health and her children’s development. With the extended time available through the safe housing program, she was able to become a better parent and integrate her recovery skills into their lives.
Even now, she still structures her day with the simple discipline she learned while she lived at Bonita House. She still wakes up every day and vows that just for today, she will not use drugs. She calls her sponsor, she attends women’s support meetings, prepares meals, runs the carpool for school and helps with her children’s activities. “Some might say I live a boring life, Courtney says, but I know that I am focused on the good things, the things that matter.” Courtney celebrated 5 years in recovery this past November.
Kylie, now 18 and a senior at Humble High, shares her family’s story with her friends. She has just been awarded a $60,000 scholarship to attend Howard Payne University and plans to study business and psychology. She feels that the individual counseling and family therapy she received made her worry less about her mom and understand her better. “These things have made me stronger. I share my experiences with no shame. I am proud of my mom.” Courtney adds, “Santa Maria literally changed our lives. It saved us – our whole family.”
SHE IS THE FACE OF RECOVHERY.
Inspired To Help
Daphane and Kimberly are a power duo with “lived experience” who are passionate to assist new moms and their infants in building a better future through recovery. They each turned to Santa Maria when their own lives were unmanageable. As SMH alums, Daphne and Kimberly share much in common because of the similarity of their struggles.
Both credit Santa Maria with giving them the tools to choose a path to recovery. Daphne and Kimberly joined our staff as a recovery coach and a linkage specialist respectively. They are able to impact their clients because they are relatable and real.
They both remember the moment that a SMH staff member inspired them to follow a path of training and education beyond their own battle with substance use. They each became motivated to help others find hope and opportunity. “While listening to my family counselor at Jacquelyn, I decided right there and then that I would become a counselor myself,” says Kimberly. She continues, “All I needed was for someone to tell me you can do this. I found that at Santa Maria. In fact, I found respect and dignity here. I would have taken anything, any job to work here; they saved my life.”
As a 2015 graduate of our treatment program, Kimberly fought for recovery after 36 years without a day sober. She followed her daughter to treatment and began to believe in herself. Since her graduation, she has been on a journey of learning. She went back to school and received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. While waiting to take the LMSW, (Licensed Master Social Work), she was accepted into the school of her choice, St. Edwards University, where Kimberly is currently enrolled in a Doctorate program in Education.
In only 18 months since her release, Daphne has put her incarceration for a drug- related crime far behind her. While in prison, she sought treatment and stayed in recovery groups, ready to make a change. After release, she moved to Paschall (SMH’s Women’s Recovery Residence and Community Center) for the sober housing and support services. She completed an associate’s degree in business management on the computers in the center’s lab. She seized the opportunity as an essential worker in a food service industry to move from part to full time, despite the pandemic. She was grateful for the work and the paycheck.
While working in the computer lab, Daphane was influenced and motivated by our recovery coach staff in action across the hall. She realized that there was a recovery coach training opportunity for her to complete that allowed her to work with women like herself and share her success. She completed her certification and found her new position with our prevention staff.
Daphane and Kimberly are concerned that the necessary COVID-19 restrictions are keeping them from their vital community-based outreach. Their team mission is to reach and connect with the many vulnerable women who may not traditionally seek services for substance use disorder and available prenatal or postpartum assistance. By design, they co-locate in medical clinics, community centers and the county jail. Several of our 18 community partners are still not allowing in-person visits, following strict pandemic protocols. In the interim, the team has been providing the majority of their outreach through referral and by Zoom, phone and other virtual means. They fear that many women are not being connected to services. With the isolation and disruption of the pandemic, they also know that the numbers of women who need help is rising. They have adapted their approach, being flexible to the times, but are eager for a return to in-person community outreach work when safety allows. They are committed to helping as many women as possible to finding life in recovery.
THEY ARE THE FACES OF RECOVHERY.
Pregnant, homeless and addicted to drugs, Michelle gave birth to her son in 2006. Family members came to the hospital to ensure that she did not leave with her newborn, because they knew she would not be able to properly care for him. CPS became involved and advised if she chose treatment, she might have a chance to regain custody. Nine days later, she began intensive treatment at Santa Maria (SMH), determined to change her life. Her son entered foster care.
“Santa Maria was the foundation of my recovery”, says Michelle. “I entered intensive treatment for 35 days and was not referred to the supportive program. I was sent home.” The counselors told her that she did not receive a referral because she was not fully participating. “They saw what I didn’t see”, she says. On her knees, praying for help, she promised she would enter any door that was opened to her. Her boyfriend made a call to SMH to ask for another chance and when granted, convinced her to return. This time, she was fully engaged. She completed her supportive program and six months of outpatient treatment.
Since then, she has never looked back. Her journey was fraught with fear and challenge, but she has learned she must put her recovery first and let everything else follow. She attended meetings, joined Mercy Street Church and gave back to others by volunteering and advocating for her peers. She trained to become a Recovery Support Services coach serving SMH and our community for the past nine years. She has become a highly active community advocate, a mental health fellow and a great wife and mother.
Michelle did not see her son for the first month of his life and after that only had a one-hour supervised visit every two weeks. Meanwhile, the key players on her team saw real change in her with a true commitment to recovery.. For the first time in many years, she saw people fighting for her. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having someone believe in you. After all those years of being shunned and hiding, it meant everything that people began to see me differently. Their belief became my own, in myself.” Ultimately, she was given custody of her son and was able to take him home. He is now a happy, typical 13 year old living with his family.
Fast forward several years and Michelle is again employed representing SMH with the Ben Taub MOM program. Michelle says, “I love the team. They treat me with respect and value my life experiences. They are the right people, on the right path, at the right time.” “We are honored to have such a long-term relationship with Michelle,” says Nadine Scamp, CEO. Client to emerging leader, she is the face of RecovHERy.
Healing For A Family
We hear a lot about the opioid crisis but often that information focuses on statistics, hard-hit communities and the causes of this public health crisis. Meet Holly, a woman who can put a face to the trauma and despair brought by opioid dependency but who can also shine the light on the hope and joy of the pathway to recovery and healing.
Her addiction began at age 13 with an over prescription of pain killers after a tonsillectomy. The pills eased not just her physical pain but the emotional one that she suffered after the death of her father at that tender age of preadolescence. She was not aware how deeply she was grieving, and there was no intervention to assist her to cope with the feelings of loss. Over the years and like so many others, she migrated to other drugs after she could no longer obtain those prescribed. She used cocaine, meth and later heroin in the search for something that would dull the pain and the tragic consequences of her addiction. Although early on she completed residential treatment, she was unable to continue sobriety.
Holly is the mother to three children, two born during her addiction. As a consequence of her dependency, her children were removed by CPS. She missed important milestones of their development. Along the way, she also experienced near death through overdose and traumas too numerous and private to elaborate on. She found the refuge and
help of Santa Maria after the birth of her third child. A caring physician insisted she have a plan for treatment before she was discharged from her maternity hospital stay. Her mother suggested Santa Maria, and Holly entered residential services coupled with medication assisted treatment, surrounded by the support she so desperately needed.
With the help of court liaison services offered through SMH she regained custody of her children. With guidance from her peer recovery coaches and counselors, she completed treatment, enrolled at Houston Community College and secured childcare for her children. She resides at Bonita House in the sober living apartments with her family. All of her family members have been strengthened by the many services available to children and families. Holly is studying counseling and is determined to become involved in the world of recovery services as her profession. Today, she shares a warm smile, thoughtful insight into her future and the hope she envisions for her children. She asked that we recognize the Santa Maria staff “Coach Patera and Coach Traci, Mr. Tommy Austin and Ms. Amelia Murphy, my inspiring team of counselors and advocates… I could not have come this far without them!”
She is the face of RecovHERy.