My story, like so many other incarcerated women, started when I was just a child watching the ones I love struggle with addiction. My mother was loving, funny, kind, and brave. She also battled with addiction that broke her down, eventually landed her in jail, and worse yet, eventually ended her life. As a child, I knew she loved me and was doing her best, but she had an illness. I remember thinking maybe jail was best and would help her, but nothing changed. Growing up, I watched my brother go down the same path which was very hard because I looked up to him so much. Watching them both as my role models crumble away piece by piece was heartbreaking. All of this was tough to watch growing up, but the end result is inevitable when you live this kind of life.

When I got older, I went through the same growing pains as most young adults, but I found I lacked the knowledge of how to deal with them. Instead of asking for help, I eventually turned to drugs too, just like my mom and brother. This led me down a dark path – I was lost, alone, afraid, and had no idea how to break the cycle. All the times I promised my mom I would never be like my brother and all the times I promised myself I would never be like my mom; it was all for nothing.

I was making the same bad choices, feeling like there was no way out because I truly did not know another way. These poor choices led me to prison more than once, and worse yet, I convinced myself that this was just the way things were for me. When I looked at my family, I realized I was just like them, and I believed I always would be. Even after everything I went through as a child, I still continued the cycle and put my own kids in the same position of feeling left behind, unloved, and alone without me; What a heartbreaking feeling that I have caused my children.

I don’t ever want my children to follow in my footsteps with addiction or prison so I have made the decision to do everything differently. I work for Televerde Foundation and play a role in the success of women like myself who simply want better for themselves and their children. Televerde Foundation has given me the personal and professional skills I need to change my life so that I can be a role model for my children.

Thanks to Televerde Foundation, I will leave here with a meaningful career and more importantly I now have the confidence and self-worth to believe in myself and create a better future. I can show my children they do not have to go down the same path I did and teach them a better way of life. Today I can show them that while there will always be struggles, it is okay to ask for help and show through my actions that there are people who love and care from them, including me. Today, I can lead by example and do for my kids what I wish someone would have done for me growing up.

The best way to leave a legacy is to create one. I am leading by example and showing my children how to live a better life while successfully breaking the cycle of generational incarceration.