“People ain’t perfect. We all have these flaws and we all have these hiccups.”
Dawn originally entered Saint John’s ten years ago. She went through the program simply to get done with it. She admits, “I was doing what I was told to do. I wasn’t receiving what I was supposed to be receiving, I was just going through the motions. I was there because CPS had requested I do this.”
However, going through the motions of the program wasn’t enough to turn her life around. Dawn grew up with a toxic mother who had hurt her physically, mentally, and verbally. As a result of the lifelong trauma she had experienced, and due to her uncommitted approach during her first stay at Saint John’s, she turned to a harrowing life that included prostitution, drugs, and abusive relationships, until she came back to Saint John’s a second time to fully experience the program.
Fast forward ten years and Dawn is back visiting her Saint John’s family, but this time as a success story. She is now working, has her own place and has regained custody of and is able to care for her two kids. I first met her at Saint John’s during a vision board workshop. I watched as Dawn was greeted with happy shrieks of recognition and hugs of comfort by the staff and volunteers. She had come back that day to visit and be with her Saint John’s family because she especially needed to be in an uplifting environment around people who care for her.
“I was feeling discouraged, and when I start feeling that way, I want to come in the door,” explains Dawn. “It humbles me [to remember] where we came from because it took me out of where I was, and when I left, I was able to put things in better perspective.”
Although she is currently happy and healthy raising her straight-A son and her 17-year-old daughter, Dawn had been fighting to obtain a restraining order against her daughter’s adult boyfriend. Her daughter is almost eighteen now and the police department said there was not much she could do. Feeling defeated, she headed for Saint John’s for a boost. Dawn participated in our vision board group with a new group of women. I observed her as she sat working; calm, happy to be there as a support to the new women, and as a support to herself.
“There is bonding, there is loving,” explains Dawn. “You meet these women that have so much in common with you. It’s a sisterhood. These are all my sisters.”
She comes back to the classes because, as she says, “They build up your confidence. Saint John’s teaches you how to make better choices and how to love yourself.”
At Saint John’s the door is always open.
By: Guest Blogger, Kara Turner