For me, Pioneer Human Services is kind of like the parent I never had when I was young. My positive life lessons started here.
When you learn about my past you would probably never guess that today I am engaged to a wonderful man and have two children, I work as a master scheduler for Pioneer Industries in the aerospace division, and I am a fourth-year college student getting my degree in Business Administration. At school, I’ve also been on either the Dean’s or President’s List every semester so far.
So how did I get here? Pioneer encouraged and believed in me and provided me with seven different programs that gave me the tools I needed to succeed.
I came from a home where it was OK to use drugs and commit crimes; in fact, it was encouraged by my parents (my dad is still struggling with drug addiction and my mom is in prison for the fifth time.) I never learned the basic things from my parents like the importance of getting an education, the feeling of self-worth, or the reason to set goals in life - I learned all that from my second family at Pioneer.
At the age of 13 my mom offered me drugs and I followed her example of getting high all the time. I barely made it through eighth grade and needless to say didn’t ever see a day of high school. By the time I was 15 years old I was using drugs constantly and found myself pregnant. When my baby was born she was sent straight to a detox center in Kent. I brought her home and tried to be a mom but after several failed drug tests, missed court dates with Child Protection Services (CPS), and running away or being kicked out of drug treatment programs, CPS terminated my parental rights and my daughter was put up for adoption.
From there I really spiraled down into a life of crime and drug use and by the age of 19 I had 14 felonies. It was like I was free-falling off a cliff and when I landed in prison I found out I was pregnant again. After several months, I was accepted into the baby program that the Washington Corrections Center for Women offers. In the program I delivered a son and was able to keep him with me while I was still incarcerated.
When I was released from prison my son was 18 months and we were accepted into Pioneer’s Helen B. Ratcliff (HBR) work release. It was a very lucky break for me as that is the only work release in the area that accepts children and offers a parenting program, and it was my initial introduction to all of Pioneer’s services. Stacy, my community corrections officer at HBR, pushed me into enrolling in Pioneer’s Roadmap to Success job training program as I had never worked a legal job. The program opened the door for me to see a little light in my future and when I graduated, Pioneer Industries hired me in the shipping and receiving division. It was a really positive step to start getting a pay check while I was still living in work release.
As my release date from HBR was getting closer, I needed to find housing that would accept someone with a criminal history. Pioneer staff worked with me on securing an apartment in their affordable housing program in Auburn that accepts formerly incarcerated parents with their children. I was able to swing the rent with my paycheck so my son and I had a new home. Unfortunately though, I got into a very abusive relationship. When I came to work with black eyes and bruises my fellow employees and manager started asking me how they could help me – they really cared about me and offered support and options.
Unfortunately, I still stayed in the abusive relationship. Shortly after my partner injured me so bad I ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery - that was it. I needed to move out immediately for my safety and my son’s. Pioneer took major steps to protect me and offered me financial assistance for the moving expenses through their Hope Fund for employees in crisis.
Now that I was safe and secure with new housing and my job, Pioneers management convinced me to start going to college to get my degree. I was learning things fast on the job and being promoted but I just never thought I was a college candidate. Pioneer not only talked me into going to college, but they are paying for my education through the Employee Tuition Assistance program. They believed in me and taught me how to believe in myself.
To top everything off, every Christmas Pioneer’s Adopt-A-Child program has made is so that my son’s wish list for gifts is fulfilled ensuring lots of fun around the holidays. All of the staff encouragement, support and Pioneer programs have helped me get to where I am today. I can honestly say that without Pioneer I would probably have fallen back into my old lifestyle with no hope. I am not even sure that I would be alive today. Pioneer really acts on their motto, “Providing a Chance for Change,” and I am living proof!