“When I came into the [Pearl Street Residence],” Chelsea begins, “I was homeless, I had dropped back out of high school, and I had crashed my car. I was in a really big legal situation—I was facing 15 years in prison. I was at a point where I was like, ‘there is no possible way I’m going to get my life back together after this.’”
She was 18 when she moved in, coming from a few months at a rehab facility. “At first, I was not a big fan,” she says. “I wasn’t a big fan of rules and structure. I had a foster home, but I didn’t follow the rules – I just did whatever I wanted.”
“But you’re expected to hold your own at Spectrum. You’re supposed to do chores, follow rules, and go to all your meetings on time. I had to learn how to be responsible. I had to learn basic life skills over again. They literally helped shape me from the ground up.”
Chelsea had dropped out of high school, so first, staff worked with her on getting back in. “They helped me to get to all my appointments, helped me to do my homework, to do the basic things I just needed to do. And I was able to graduate high school, which I thought I would never ever ever do.”
Because she was formerly in foster care, Chelsea also worked with Spectrum’s Youth Development Program, which supports youth aging out of state custody and transitioning to a life on their own. The YDP staff step in where a parent otherwise might, offering coaching and financial support. In Chelsea’s case, they helped her get into cosmetology school and apply for financial aid, and then helped her pay for the clothing she needed for school.
Staff also helped her address her legal situation. “I thought I was going to lose everything, but everybody was by my side the whole time,” she says. Kandi, her caseworker, went to court and then to trial with her. When she was put on house arrest for six months, she thought her life was over again. But she found Spectrum staff there to help her do everything she needed to do.
“I don’t have much family, I really don’t, and they helped to fill that,” says Chelsea, her eyes filling with tears. “Sorry, I’m getting worked up. They taught me how to live life again.”
Now 20, Chelsea is two years sober, lives on her own, and has a job in a local salon. She still comes to Spectrum for counseling and to check in with Kandi once a week.
“I had to be re-taught everything. The way that I was used to living was a dirty way of living. Stealing and doing drugs and no respect for myself or anybody else. It was just a terrible way to live. I guess I got to a point where I was able to look at the way that I was living my life before and really deep down inside decide that I didn’t want that anymore. I have stuff I want to do with my life and even if I didn’t have that much confidence in myself, there was a little part of me that wanted to someday achieve something. I would not have anything I have now without Spectrum,” she says. “That’s real.”