May – The Month Honoring Mothers
Jeanne Christensen, RSM
May…the month of mothers. Some we remember with fondness and affection, others we prefer to forget and some we have never known. For some of us the mother we remember is one who did not birth us but gave us fullness of life as adoptive parent, step-parent, guardian, or grandparent.
For twenty-one years, I have volunteered with Amethyst Place a transitional housing program for women with children. All the women have won sobriety from drugs and/or alcohol and some have overcome the disabling burden of mental illness. If they did not have custody of their children, they fought to bring their children home from foster care or state supervision. Their desires sound simple but demand strength, courage, and resilience. They want to stay sober, get a job, their GED or other certificate or college diploma, and have a safe and attractive place to call home. More than all these, the moms want to give their children love, happiness, stability, and a place to call home.
Some of the moms at Amethyst Place have been victims of human trafficking but not the majority. Any one of them could have been a victim if not for Amethyst Place and programs like theirs. The root causes of human trafficking have been part of their lives – poverty, exploitation, homelessness, addiction, lack of education, violence…leaving them overwhelmed and hopeless. When the moms, who have achieved sobriety and are in recovery, and their children arrive at Amethyst Place, they are vulnerable and sometimes afraid; but through programs and safe housing, they are empowered. Every family’s story is unique but not unusual.
Angel was one of the first moms to move into Amethyst Place in 2000. Separated from her newborn and seven-year-old son due to substance use and unsafe living conditions, it only took Angel two weeks to reunite with her family at Amethyst Place. Twenty years later, sons Tyron and Ivory vividly remember the day they moved in and how their apartment felt like home. They are so proud of their mom and how she has maintained recovery and raised them since. Her sons are now successes in their own right. Tyron is a math teacher and football coach who comes back to Amethyst Place to do volunteer work, including when he helped build the garage where furniture donations are stored. His brother Ivory is an aspiring real estate agent. Angel and her sons exemplify the two-generation impact of Amethyst Place and its ability to halt the cycles of trauma, substance use, and poverty for good.
“My life at Amethyst Place is really full here, as opposed to how it was before when I was homeless. Division of Family Services wanted me to go from having nothing to having a 3-bedroom house to get my kids back. I was starting at square one. That really seemed like a giant mountain that I was never going to be able to climb and I felt pretty hopeless. I did get a job at U-haul. I decided that if I didn’t have to pay rent somewhere, I could get my kids back faster if I just worked, had as little bills as possible, and I saved up. So I lived in my van during the winter. I did my visits with the kids in the community because I didn’t have a home. And then I came to Amethyst Place in February 2020. Prior to this, I had been in recovery for months, but the court system was talking of terminating my parental rights because I couldn’t reach the level of stability they wanted. It went very quickly from me being by myself all the time to being surrounded by all these women and children and getting my children back almost immediately after moving into Amethyst Place. There’s so much support being here and many resources to access. Coming to Amethyst Place just gave me the support I needed to reach that next step for us to be a family again. This program gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
To listen to Mollee’s story, go to https://amethystplace.org/our-stories/# It is a 4:59 minute video.
Amethyst Place is where families come to heal. The goal is to reunite, stabilize, and heal mothers and children. This is achieved by removing barriers and individualizing services to promote sustainable recovery and healthy living. Programs build capacity of mothers to achieve economic success and overcome generational poverty. Families who graduate Amethyst Place’s program are empowered to continue their accomplishments and like Angel’s sons become strong, contributing members of their communities.
Programs like Amethyst Place are vital not only to the recovery from but also to the prevention of human trafficking because they provide realistic solutions to the root causes of human trafficking that have permeated the families’ lives.
To learn more about Amethyst Place visit www.amtheystplace.org
Category: Monthly Reflections