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Road to Recovery: Nichole

Monday, March 28, 2022

Central City Concern’s Road to Recovery series features the stories of clients who have successfully turned their lives around. These stories of resilience inspire us and remind us that recovery is possible. 

In late 2019, Nichole knew she had to make a change.  

Her struggles with meth began in 2003 when she was coping with losing custody of her first son. Her substance use had led to property crimes and prisontwice. With long periods of sobriety, she started using again before the birth of her fourth child. Now her three younger children were being cared for by relatives, and she was experiencing homelessness.  

But then a DHS worker told her about CCC’s Letty Owings Center, a safe, inclusive environment for women to live with their children while in treatment for substance use disorders.

According to Director of Residential Services Tina Bialas, what makes Letty stand out is its “holistic program structure,” featuring a nurse and parent trainer on staff as well as on-site daycare. Residents receive mental health and substance use disorder treatment. They even have access to art therapy, acupuncture and get to work in the local community garden. 

Nichole attended weekly “waitlist groups” while waiting for a bed to become available. The moment she walked in she knew it was the place for her. “You could see that the moms were so happy to have their kids, and that they’re getting their lives back.” 

The staff were also welcoming. “They never gave you a look like you were an addict. You were a person when you walked in…you weren’t a piece of garbage, you were just a person who needed help.” 

Retention in residential treatment, like Letty Owings, for three weeks or longer is associated with improved recovery outcomes. Director of Residential Services Tina Bialas credits an emphasis on trauma-informed care for increased retention at Letty Owings.

When a bed opened up, Nichole felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. The moment she moved in, she was ready to engage in everything Letty had to offer. Her 3-year-old moved in with her, and her other children were able to visit frequently.  

Nichole ‘s counselor was “phenomenal,” she says. “She talked to me about things that I didn’t know I needed, like self-love, self-worth and setting boundaries.” She also benefited from her relationships with the other moms, who would “talk and uplift each other and help each other work through things.” 

After nearly five months at Letty, Nichole was ready to move on to the next chapter of her life, eventually moving into an apartment at CCC’s Sunrise Place, which offers recovery housing for families with young children, known as FAN, (Family ADFC Network Program) Housing. There she was again able to find community with other moms in recovery. 

According to FAN Housing Supervisor Patty Summers, “the support they receive and community they have” is what makes FAN Housing special. Nichole met weekly with Patty, who helped her sign up for an expungement clinic and eventually find permanent housing in another CCC building. 

“I have really benefited from the Central City Concern staff. They uplift and encourage me, and they let me know that I don’t have to let my past define my future.” 

A CCC employment specialist reaches out to FAN Housing residents once they are stable enough to look for employment. Most FAN Housing residents are able to gain an income or increase their income while living in FAN Housing.

Now Nichole has joined the staff of Central City Concern. She started her job with Central City Staffing earlier this month. Eventually, she hopes to work as a recovery mentor and use her personal experience to help others.  

“Life is going pretty great,” she says. 

Nichole sitting outside

Recovery is possible—we see it every day. Support Central City Concern and give the gift of hope and healing to neighbors in need.

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