Finding resources and finding hope

May 12, 2021

Over the past several years Jennifer has become an expert on finding resources for herself. But it wasn’t until she was asked to help others find resources that she came to appreciate her own grit and determination. 

Unfortunately, the path for Jennifer and her kids has not always been smooth. Jennifer struggled with substance use for many years. When her kids were in elementary school, they were removed from her care on three separate occasions. Each time, Jennifer worked hard to regain custody and address her alcohol use disorder. 

When Jennifer and her two children were given the opportunity to participate in Jefferson County’s Family Integrated Treatment (FIT) Court, she saw an end to the cycle she had been in for years. The FIT Court program is designed to address child abuse or neglect that is related to parental substance misuse by encouraging families to make a commitment to a lifestyle of recovery. In addition to services for people working toward recovery like Jennifer, FIT Court provides resources to children in an effort to heal the relationship between them and their parents. 

Her work in FIT Court was one of the first times Jennifer believed her life could really be different. She and her kids began receiving individual and family therapy. But unfortunately, even with this support, Jennifer found it difficult to break the cycle of substance misuse.

“Looking back, I can see times when I wasn’t really ready to quit drinking,” said Jennifer. “The FIT Court program helped me want to become sober, but I was still struggling to make that a reality.” 

After initially making great strides, Jennifer relapsed, was arrested for a DUI and ended up in Denver County Jail. While there, she entered the Recovery in a Secure Environment or RISE program. RISE helped Jennifer rebuild her foundation through substance use disorder treatment and trauma education so when she was released she was in a better position to remain sober. Her children also received therapy, including sessions with the Betty Ford Center. Jennifer also underwent EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy), which she highlights as a turning point in her recovery as she was finally able to address her past trauma. 

“I have been sober for more than 2,000 days now and will be celebrating six years of sobriety this August,” shared Jennifer. “The pandemic has been tough for all of us, but we are doing our best with the help of a huge support network through my Bible study group and taking a lot of walks.”

Her children spent months in online school and recently returned part-time to in-person classes. Jennifer was able to find a new full-time job after being furloughed from her previous job in food service. 

One thing she has learned through all of her experiences with recovery, therapy and family services is that you have to want help in order to appreciate help. Jennifer is a true believer in both RISE and JeffCo FIT Court. And they believe in her, too. This belief includes being asked to share her story on behalf of Jeffco FIT Court in the news media and with families in need of help. 

Given these experiences, she is frequently called on to help other families navigate finding the resources they need. She knows how to help others find support — whether it is looking for work, registering for classes or even getting discount RTD cards for people who are eligible for SNAP or WIC. Her efforts were even at the Colorado Convening on Children, Youth and Families, which presented her the Adult Mentor Award.

“I used to feel like I had to scratch and claw every day for resources,” said Jennifer. “But I didn’t realize until people who helped me in the past asked me to help other families find resources that all that work gave me an important skill that I am now really proud of.”

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