September is National Recovery Month, and to honor those in our care who are on their own personal journey of recovery, we want to share the inspiring story of Bethany, one of our successful Transitional-Aged Youth. The following story is a reminder that recovery is not a destination to arrive at, but rather a journey to celebrate.
I met Bethany when I was a new employee in the Family Care Network’s Transitional Age Youth Services (TAYS) Housing Programs. At the time, Bethany was struggling with alcohol and drug abuse, and was having suicidal thoughts. She also had a tendency to surround herself with a lot of negative people who tended to bring her down rather than lift her up. Bethany had already been in the THP program for a bit when I came into her life as her Youth Partner. Prior to care, Betahny had endured domestic violence in her home as well as sexual assault. When I met her, everything seemed to be going downhill for her--she had just lost her parental rights to her young son--but she still managed to maintain a positive mindset, and voiced her astounding determination that things were going to get better. No matter what was going on in her life, Bethany continued to believe that good things were coming her way. While working on Bethany’s case, she went into a Rehabilitation Center for a few months to help her get back on track with her sobriety, which was the beginning of a beautiful new chapter in her life.
After completing her Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program, Bethany returned to the TAYS program and began the hard work of rebuilding her life. She began to make more positive choices, setting better boundaries with her family and friends, and even reaching out and building new friendships with people she thought might be a better influence on her life. Bethany continued working through her recovery and FCNI’s programs in order to remain sober and make positive choices.
While in TAYS, Bethany continued to work towards her goals, and after awhile she demonstrated that she was ready to be reunified with her son. While in care, Bethany continued to have her ups and downs, as we all do, but eventually she was able to successfully reunify with her son. Today, she has a job and has even saved enough money to purchase a vehicle on her own without other financial help! Bethany has learned to reach out for support when she needs it--such as the time she needed help learning how to register and insure her car--and she continues to learn other critical life skills.
Recently, Bethany decided to go back to school with the goal of becoming a Social Worker. She enrolled and is currently attending Cuesta College, as well as working and caring for her son. Bethany states that having Family Care Network staff in her life providing her with continual hope and support has instilled within her a vision to give back to others in the same way.
As a Youth Partner, I have had my own low moments where I have felt that I can’t get any lower. For those like us who have experienced the foster care system first-hand, one small thing can feel like such a huge success. Step-by-step, I’ve seen Bethany go from one miraculous success to another, including: completing rehab and remaining sober, a time when she said “no” to something that she previously might have given in to because that was her “normal,” saving up money to buy her own car, these have all been successes because of her willpower and determination. The biggest success for Bethany was her parental rights to her son. When she was awarded these rights, it was an affirmation to her that she had done what she was supposed to do; that she had faithfully followed the programs she has participated in. Bethany made positive choices and changes in her life to make it possible to parent her son again and maintain sobriety, and for that we all should celebrate her!
Building a positive support network has been a big contributor to Bethany’s success and recovery in many ways. Her son’s grandmother (his father’s mom) is a part of their lives. Bethany surrounds herself with friends who have become like family to her, as her own family has not always had the best influence over her life. She has turned to friends and made them her family, and they have have helped her to flourish. Community support has helped Bethany move forward and achieve her goals. Family Care Network staff, as well as the Department of Social Services and her rehab program staff have all made a huge impact on her life and provided her with needed support. As a team, we have all been her support, but mostly she has herself to thank for telling herself every day that she can do it, that things will get better.
Bethany is an inspiration to all of us. Most of our youth are so incredibly successful, and we don’t share every story, but it is important to take time to celebrate and acknowledge each and every one of them. Everybody can be somebody. It just takes hitting rock bottom sometimes, and slowly making it back to the top, and moving even further than that. Bethany is doing it, and her positive mindset and continued sobriety is inspiring.
Witnessing Bethany’s journey has been an inspiration to me. I’ve been there, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of a similar journey. I’ve worked my way up from the bottom. And now being in a position where I can encourage others as a Youth and Family Partner so that they can succeed brings tears to my eyes. I get to experience joy and excitement every day when I get to celebrate success in our youths’ lives, no matter how big or small. It’s touching to see the changes in their lives every day, and I’m privileged to be able to be a part of their team. I’ve worked my way through the system, and now I get to give back and make a difference in other people’s lives, and that is deeply rewarding to me. I truly care about the people I work with, and truly have a heart for this and want them to progress and succeed in life.