Stories: Helping a mother overcome chemical addiction and learn how to be a caregiver

Your support at work

Thanks to your support, Cheryl received the help she needed to put her life together and keep the son she loves so much!

This story comes courtesy of Lorine Cady with House of Grace, part of United Way’s network of partner agencies. Names and images are changed to protect client confidentiality.

Cheryl was a woman driven by fear. She was driven by the fear of losing her son if she had to serve a long sentence in jail. She was also worried her son’s life would turn out like her own… a life of drug and alcohol abuse in a home surrounded by addicts.

“When I almost lost my son Jimmy, it was a wake up call for me,” Cheryl said. “I was on the verge of going to jail for a long time, and there was no one to look after him since his father was a long-time addict as well.”

A phone call led Cheryl to Grace House, a United Way partner agency, one that provided a structured program and therapy for chemically addicted women and their children. Cheryl admitted that when she first came to the program, her lifestyle was totally corrupt and unethical. During the first six weeks she was in the agency’s Renewal Place program, Cheryl had no communication with the outside world other than those individuals in her alcohol and drug classes.

“The staff encouraged me to interact with my son, to develop a maternal bond with him,” she said. “I gradually learned what it was to be a good parent.”

Jimmy is now 4 years-old and attends a daycare affiliated with the agency. Despite being a severely drug exposed child with several early learning disabilities, Jimmy is now healthy and has mastered age appropriate skills and is even ahead of his age in some areas.

Cheryl was able to attain her cosmetology certificate while at the agency and is now employed in the industry. She and her son graduated from the agency’s Renewal Place program and soon moved into their own home. Cheryl is still attached to Grace House through weekly aftercare meetings.

Cheryl amazingly changed from a self-conscious, insecure and dependent woman to a determined and confident person with a “can-do” attitude. Through your gifts to United Way, Cheryl and other women like her are finding a new way of life through programs like these across the Mid-South.

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