I was 16 and pregnant when I was sent to Florence Crittenton 9 years ago.  I had had a really difficult childhood, my parents didn’t really care about me and I had been in several foster homes and group homes.  I ended up staying until my daughters 3rd birthday and looking back I am so grateful I had that opportunity.

When I first arrived I was angry and scared.  It is hard to be sent away from everything you know when you are pregnant.  Fairly quickly though I made bonds with the other girls in the program and we connected on a different level.  The staff were awesome.  They taught us how to be parents and basic things like how to make homemade, healthy food and how to keep a house.  They taught us everything we needed to know about pregnancy and parenting which is important when you haven’t had a good childhood yourself.

Most importantly they taught us that when things are tough you can get through it.  After being so scared and nervous at first I started to feel more relaxed as I realized I was developing the family I was never given.  I felt like I was given a fresh start.

While I was at Florence Crittenton I went to school and also learnt construction through the Youth Build program.  I am now studying Criminal Justice at Helena College, taking EMT classes, working at Safeway to support myself and am a volunteer firefighter.

I am determined to be financially stable and to have a career that I want so I can give my family opportunities in the future that I never had.

I have been single now for 2 years because I am waiting for someone special.

After having such a rough childhood I knew the odds were against me.  I had been told my whole life that I wouldn’t become anything.  I am determined to succeed and be different.  Florence Crittenton made me feel like I had a second chance and that I can accomplish everything.  Everyone deserves that chance.

Earlier this year I made a very difficult choice to make a loving adoption plan for my daughter Kristina.  I realized with everything I had to do with my studies to be able to make it on my own I wouldn’t be able to provide the life that she deserves.  A loving friend of mine who lives in Kalispell who is older and more financially stable offered to adopt Kristina.  She has a wonderful life, she has excellent grades in school, participates in basketball and cheerleading and is happy and safe and loved.  It was a super hard decision to make but I knew the life that I wanted for her and that I couldn’t provide her with the opportunities she deserved.  I talk to her on the phone twice a week and visit every other month and we have a great relationship.

I have 3 more years left in college and then hope to move on to a law degree.  My teachers say I am doing great and that I am their favorite student.  Having come from a life where my parents didn’t care about me, where my step father abused me from age 3-13 and who was a drug dealer I am determined to beat the odds.  Florence Crittenton helped me realize that I do not need to let my past define my future.  They are a big family of supporters that will be with you throughout life.  You make lifelong friends and learn things you never knew before.  They say life is a gamble, this is the best gamble I could ever have taken in my life.