Sitting in the peaceful, shaded yard of her duplex, one would never guess that Pam had once faced addiction and homelessness. The quiet 30-something explains that her addiction to pills began years ago, right after she had lost a good, steady job at a hospital. She was in a bad relationship at the time, and her boyfriend introduced her to pills. Even though she had never used drugs before, she was feeling so depressed from her job loss that she looked towards them as a way to escape her current circumstances.
Flash forward several years and two bouts in treatment later, and Pam arrived at COTS. The most recent treatment facility she had been in told her that she needed a stable, supportive environment in order to break her cycle of addiction. “In order to get a better life, I changed everything,” she explains. That meant setting up a new life for herself in Appleton, three hours from the town she grew up in.
Coming out of her shell
Pam was nervous when she first came to COTS. “I isolated myself a lot in the beginning,” she remembers. Fortunately, she eventually came out of her shell and began making friends with the other COTS residents.
She also found employment at STEP Industries, a company that employs and supports individuals in recovery. “I was excited to start working again,” Pam remembers. However, her career goal was to be a Certified Nursing Assistant again. So, while working at STEP, Pam continued to search for jobs in her field. She was eventually hired by a nursing home.
For Pam, being able to return to the field she loved was a significant turning point. She has been at her current job for six months. “I love it,” she laughs. “I love working with the people, especially the residents. I treat them like I would my family. I don’t take it for granted.” She is always sure to give special attention to the nursing home residents that don’t get many visitors.
“I know they’re always there”
With her new job, Pam saved up enough money to be able to move out of COTS. She now lives with her boyfriend and his son, and is proud to show off the beautiful garden in her backyard. She has stayed involved with COTS through our Aftercare Program, and, in addition to communicating with the Outreach Coordinator regularly, is also still in touch with the Women’s Case Manager. “I’ve never had that before,” Pam states as she describes how she feels cared for by the COTS staff. “I know that they’re always there if I need something.”
Pam also stays in touch with COTS by coming to monthly resident dinners. She says they are a great way to catch up with her friends from COTS.
In the future, Pam would like to go back to school to become a nurse. Through this experience, Pam says that she has learned, “To trust other women. To ask for help. Knowing you’re not alone is always nice.”