Jessica's Story

My name is Jessica and I am 35 years old. I'd like to share my story with you and how the class Incredible Years has impacted my life.

I have a history of depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, homelessness, and incarceration. However, I currently have (almost) 22 months clean and sober from all drugs and alcohol. I am very proactive and disciplined in my recovery program. I am the mother of two very resilient, very smart children. My son's name is Jeremy, and he is 4. He lives with his guardians in Bellevue, though I see him frequently. My daughter's name is Ally and she is 20 months old. She has been in my custody since birth.

About a year ago, I was introduced to the College of Hope classes offered through Housing Hope. I began to take various classes for the qualifications required to graduate the housing program I'm involved with such as Renter Certification, Budgeting, and a parenting class. Most of these classes are single evening classes and I am presented with a certificate after each class. I really liked this, not to mention the free transportation, dinner, and childcare. I'm a competitive person and I love to receive the "atta-boys" so quickly. I was really enjoying all the perks I was getting from these College of Hope classes, all the education and all the certificates. I wanted to present these certificates to my lawyers, case managers, social workers, counselors, CPS, my sponsor, various judges, DOC, my son's guardians, etc. I knew the value that a single piece of paper could hold. It wasn't just a statement of achievement; it also showed power and perseverance.

I have taken a few parenting classes, but the most informative and experiential was the Incredible Years course facilitated by Maribeth and Emitt. I attended every single class and diligently turned in all my homework. During the time of this class, I built relationships with my peers, as well as the facilitators. I shared a lot of my story and heard from others. I was comfortable enough and allowed to share the struggles I've encountered with having two children in two different households - struggles and successes I've experienced while parenting in recovery. I gave and took suggestions from other single parents. The skills I've learned and the tools I've used as a result of taking the Incredible Years class have given me a lot more confidence as a single mother. I feel like a positive role model for my daughter and son. Coming from a past with trauma and domestic violence, the emphasis on Positive Discipline is a very useful skill-set in my parenting techniques.

We watched "vignettes" which were silly to laugh at because they were outdated and the children had funny haircuts, but seeing these parents and children interact or demonstrate behaviors was a useful tool. I'm grateful that the class was open to dialogue and conversation. And that we had a mixture of teaching techniques, personal stories or experiences given, a book to read, homework assignments, and movie-clips to watch. We also had fun hands-on projects to create and discussed different role-playing activities and prompts to follow. The class was taught very well and I truly appreciate the rapport.

A lot of my parenting skills have changed over the last four years. I went from being a mother in active addiction, losing my son, becoming pregnant again, getting clean, having another child, and wanting to change for the better, for both of my children. I want to continue to educate myself through College of Hope classes, the facilitators, and through other self-help groups.

I believe the staff at Housing Hope genuinely care about the work they're doing in the community. I believe the childcare staff are extremely attentive, generous, thoughtful, and caring. The facilitators/teachers that come in to do all the different types of classes offered through College of Hope really want to make an impact on those they teach.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story,

- Jessica

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