Samantha has a kind spirit and a joyful heart. She is a forward thinker with a genuine love for discovery and adventure. To understand from where all of these attributes stem, one must conversely look at a history that seemed destined to bring out the opposite: Samantha suffered childhood traumas that affect her overall recollections, yet she clings to memories of love. She has a marked learning disability and a heavy speech impediment, yet her favorite childhood connections involve reading and schoolwork. Her parents were addicts who ran from their problems, frequently moving from state-to-state. As a result, Samantha’s relationships with friends were brief and with family, unstable. Yet, it was a relationship with her sister that enticed her into recovery, and a friendship she formed at age 13 that brought back her familiarity with God and a chance at real happiness.
“I loved my mom. We were best friends. She took time with me, helping me understand my school work. She made me feel like I mattered and that I was as important as anyone else. I know she struggled with alcohol and was typically drunk on the weekends, but she held herself together so that she could work and be available to me. She didn’t begin to unravel until the last 5 years of her life.
I didn’t have the same relationship with my dad that I had with mom. So, when mom died in 2007, my addiction problems escalated. I experimented with drugs 6 years prior to her death. I had an addiction to Meth 3 years later. When mom passed away, my Meth use was the one connection I had with my dad. I would score drugs for him and in turn, we could hang out. Within a year, I was committing crimes and behaving in a way I never would have imagined possible. When I was pregnant for the second time and making bad choices, my sister called me and invited me to move from Tucson to Fresno. She helped me find Rescue the Children, the rehab program for women through the Mission.”
Samantha has graduated the 1-year residential portion of the program and is now gainfully employed. As she finishes her 6-month Transition/Aftercare portion, she is likewise working on her educational challenges.
“I finished my GED requirements. Now I am enrolled through Fresno City College in their Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS) department. Through testing and special placement, I can build on the tools I need, all geared toward my unique way of learning. The program helps students like me overcome a range of obstacles. When I complete my education, I would like to be a respiratory therapist like my mom once was, or perhaps a teacher, helping other kids the way I’ve been helped.
My new faith in Christ has shown me that anything is possible when I rely on God. He knows why I am made the way I am. He has watched over me my entire life. Even when I was very young, He placed people in my life who loved Him and brought me into their lives. When I was 13-years-old I lived in Virginia. When I wanted to escape the chaos, I would hang out with my friend, Emily. Her home was my safe haven. Her mom, Lisa, would play games with us and take us shopping. She was a Christian and spoke a lot about God. Fifteen years later, Lisa found me on Facebook. She was still praying for me and thinking of me. Looking back, I know that God placed her in my life so that I would someday see Him at work in my life. In fact, my
favorite Scripture verse is Jeremiah 29:11...
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Today, I am learning to be a good mom. My baby, Aubrey, lives with me. She is pure energy and a joy to raise. My eldest daughter, Lillian, lives in Arizona with her grandparents and her dad. (Like me, her dad has been sober for over a year and is working on his relationships.) Lily has a playful spirit. I love that about her. She joined the Good News Club at her school, building on her own relationship with Jesus. That brings me a lot of peace. My great hope is to rebuild my connection with her so that she and her baby sister can be together. For now, we use technology to ‘FaceTime’ with each other.
Lately, I’ve been paying attention to the things that have made the biggest impression on me. My childhood memories are fragmented, so the new memories I am making are important to me. I love family meals together. We pray and thank God for every blessing. I don’t remember doing that before. I enjoy the relationships I have with my mentor, Jan, and with my case manager, Chevelle. the volunteers and staff of the Mission inspire me. They love the Lord and they encourage me through faith as I continue to face new challenges. They have helped me discover my passions.”
Samantha's story appears in the May 2017 edition of Lighthouse News.