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It might seem like an easy choice to some of us: to choose between addiction or sobriety, or between incarceration or freedom; but for Cloey, it was a personal journey fraught with twists and turns she had never anticipated.
Cloey is 20 years old, and until very recently, lived on the Villa’s Dewey Avenue campus at LIFE House. Her stay at LIFE was a pivotal point in her journey.
“For as long as I could remember, drugs were a part of my life,” she says. “Both my parents were drug addicts. I went to live first with my grandparents, but then I ended up in foster care for 7 years. When I was 17, I decided I wanted to live on my own. It got very complicated. I was living with my boyfriend, but we fought a lot, and I would go live with friends here and there, and I lived on the streets.”
It was during one of these times she went to stay with a friend that she first tried Meth. Powerfully addicting, it became her drug of choice. From that point, her life went out of control, and as she puts it, “it was really no longer my own life.”
What ensued were a blur of years, trouble with the law, experiences with abusive relationships, and homelessness. Cloey recounted that she did things during those years she had never pictured herself doing – ever. For part of that time, she was on the run, and she says if she could have imagined her life getting bad, the reality was that it got even worse than that.
“Eventually I was sent to rehab, but I walked out, and bounced for awhile between courts and rehab,” she says. “Sometimes I’d get clean, but then I’d find a way again to get high. They say that the future for someone who doesn’t get clean has three choices: jails, institutions, or death.
“I didn’t want that. So now comes the part where I ended up at LIFE House.”
LIFE let Cloey stay for an entire year, beyond the typical stay; she had no family to stay with, so her counselor, Kelly Wilmot (also the Villa’s Chief Program Officer) and the staff at LIFE became her family. She stayed while living arrangements were made for her transition, and during the entire year, she stayed sober.
“Kelly helped me the most,” she recalls. “The atmosphere at LIFE was different, not like a regular rehab; and what really set it apart was that we could go out and do things, be active, stay busy, and keep our minds occupied.”
At LIFE, she developed a plan to continue to be sober. She became involved with community resources, and the Villa’s Steven Center for Behavioral Health for continued therapy specifically designed for her recovery.
In September, she was encouraged to share her story, and she did so in a big way. She was the guest speaker at the Villa’s 42nd Tournament of Hope Golf Tournament, where she spoke to a packed room at dinner, and reported being nervous – but so proud.
“I really, really want to live my life to the fullest,” says Cloey, “and I realized drugs were keeping me from living my life to the fullest. I am focused on my future now. I want to become a photographer. I’ve been doing pictures since I was in middle school.” Following her graduation from her program at LIFE House, she worked as an intern in the Villa’s Marketing Department.
Cloey will be the first to tell you that part of her story here is missing. And it shall remain so. After graduating from LIFE House, she was required to make a court appearance, which she did, backed by a letter of support from her therapist, Kelly, detailing her diligence with her program at the Villa, her good behavior, her pursuit of her GED, her commitment to sobriety, and her community involvement.
Taking all of that into consideration, the judge sealed her records as a juvenile, and she now walks into her future with a clean slate.
I left LIFE House with a strong support network and stepped into a new life that helps me stay away from my previous habits. People believed in me.
Today I live in the community; I have been clean and sober for over a year. I’m proud to say I’m a “Villa kid,” a success story, and a person in recovery. I feel hopeful.
Yes, I did the work, and my therapist, Kelly helped me a lot – but you all who donate to the Villa – you had a role, too.
You all care, and I thank you for that.