Terry had become a bad alcoholic. Homeless on the streets, her kids in foster care, moving from state to state. A defeated woman, caught in the bottle. Until her life was transformed at Dawn Farm.
Terry took her first drink at age 10, and had black outs almost immediately. “I was in trouble with alcohol early in my teens,’ she said.
Married at 18, divorced at 21. New Jersey , Arizona , Michigan. Seven treatment centers-and two children.
The 1990’s were a long drunken spree, followed by the worst that could happen-the state took her kids away. But Terry still couldn’t stop her drinking. Eventually she ended up on the streets, staying with friends or sleeping in abandoned buildings.
“In 1999 I went to Dawn Farm—but I left after two months.” Terry’s alcoholism just got worse. She was homeless and alone. “My life just went completely out of control.”
Terry finally returned to Dawn Farm in August 1999. “I said, I’m willing to go to any lengths to get sober.” But life at Dawn Farm wasn’t easy. She had to face the demons of her past. She worked hard.
After six months at the Farm, Terry entered the newly established Cedar Park transitional apartments—part of Dawn Farm’s Chapin Street Project.
“I was sober. I was working. And I did everything needed to get my children back.” First there were supervised visits, then weekends. Finally, the day arrived. In August 2000 her kids came home.
“It was really scary. I had never been a real mom before, but I knew that this was my last chance. I knew that I had to do right by these kids.”
She worked full time, attended 12-step meetings daily, and worked closely with Farm staff—as well as other single moms in recovery—to grow as a responsible mother. She attended parenting classes, and worked with the staff of Lutheran Social Services.
In 2001, Terry won “Achievement of the Year” from the Michigan Federation of Private Child & Family Agencies for her example as a single mother. She notes the irony. “Now, instead of eviction notices on my wall, I’ve got a commendation from the governor!”
Sober more than three years, Terry has become involved in the recovering community, especially helping other sober single moms.
She works as a medical assistant and plans on continuing her support of newly recovering women. She has moved into her own apartment-where her kids are flourishing.
Her advice to others in her situation? “You don’t have to live that way anymore. My life today is full of miracles—you can get help too.”