Interviews with Valerie
Valerie explains how her life has changed since joining Jeremiah Program.
Valerie talks about the biggest challenges she sees single mothers face and how having a coach helps her overcome them.
Valerie is 31 years old and lives in Rochester, Minnesota. A mother of three, Valerie joined Jeremiah Program with the goal of refocusing her life on her family and on her calling: helping women who, like herself, have faced the dual challenges of addiction and mental illness.
Why did you choose to join Jeremiah Program?
I became a part of the Jeremiah program so I could go back to school and pursue a degree in human services to help people that struggle with mental health and chemical dependency issues. In addition to that, to be able to set a good example for my children by being stable and available to help others in need in my community.
I’ve struggled with mental health and chemical dependency issues since I was 13 years old. I’ve been in numerous treatments focused on chemical dependency, but until I had a chance to get my mental health addressed—which was the underlying issue and which brought me to self-medicate with chemicals—I wasn’t able to be successful in any length of sobriety until both areas were addressed.
In your experience, what are some of the biggest issues single mothers face?
Some of the biggest challenges that I see single mothers face are financial hardships: being able to support a child on a single income, not being aware or lack of community resources, and not having a good support system—family or otherwise. I think one of the most difficult things if you’re a single parent and your child is sick, or you’re sick, is having to take off work, having to make that call on whether to go to work sick, or possibly losing your job.
What aspect of the program has made the biggest difference for you?
The one aspect of the program which has made the biggest difference for me, personally, is to have a coach that helps me prioritize, work on goals, holds me accountable, and supports me when I’m struggling or overwhelmed.
My coach has been very supportive, encouraging, and patient with me. One thing I tend to do when overwhelmed with tasks is to procrastinate or put off to the last minute and, at times, give up on the task altogether. So, to overcome my procrastination, we have been meeting weekly, setting goals, and doing at least two-to-three tasks that I have to do together.
What goals are you working on currently?
Some of the big goals I’m working on currently are getting my driver’s license so I can work as a peer recovery specialist for a program I graduated from. The design of the program and its purpose is to help pregnant mothers with chemical dependency issues and possible child protection involvement.
What changes have you notice in yourself since you joined the program?
The biggest change for me since joining the Jeremiah Program has been working on being responsible as an adult, being responsible as a mother and a woman that struggles with mental health and chemical dependency issues, and setting goals and completing tasks to be able to go back to college and become self-sufficient.
What do you enjoy the most about being a mother?
One of the things I most enjoy as a mother is seeing [my daughter] Grace grow and learn different things. One thing that’s very important to me is for Grace to share and be kind to others. [Seeing] her doing this on her own without me prompting her makes me the most proud and happiest. My dreams for my children are to love others and have a relationship with God and to not have the same struggles with addiction and mental health as I’ve had.
What do you think are the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty?
Some of the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty [are] having access to education, second chances, and opportunities that you may not normally have. To be able to work through different poverty barriers—which can be legal, criminal, financial—and having a good support system and community resources.
What do you feel passionate about?
I feel passionate about helping women in recovery who struggle with chemical dependency and mental health. I know the importance of having someone with similar experiences and beliefs walking alongside myself to help overcome different challenging times throughout life. I believe, now, that the different painful events throughout my life are the different experiences I needed to go through in order to develop the character, knowledge, heart of compassion, and strength that I have to help people in similar circumstances and to be able to love and accept people where they are at in their life.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.