Innocentia grew up in South Africa and came to the U.S. as part of a student exchange program. Once here, she says she made friends with the wrong crowd and started using drugs.
Eventually, she began to worry that her two children would be taken from her and went into a drug treatment program. When she completed treatment, she and her children still didn’t have anywhere to stay. “We moved from house to house, even making friends just so we would have somewhere to stay.”
To add to her struggles, her son had serious medical problems as a result of her drug use. He went through many surgeries in an attempt to repair damage to his esophagus so that he could eat. As a result, they stayed at Children’s Mercy off and on for nearly eight months. But when he was released between surgeries, they were back to finding somewhere to sleep.
While staying at Rediscover, a drug treatment center in the city, her case manager referred her to SAVE, Inc. “At that point, I felt like I had nothing left in me. I was drowning in guilt [for my son’s medical problems] and I had lost just about everything,” Innocentia shares. “As soon as I walked into SAVE, I knew I didn’t have to worry anymore.”
Since finding housing, she says her life has changed dramatically. “Being sober and having housing has allowed me to start over and get into my kids again. SAVE, Inc. lifted a burden off my heart.” She says that housing gave her the ability to be a mom because she no longer has to focus on daily survival.
Innocentia’s son’s health is much improved. “He had surgery and was able to recover quickly because he was safe at home.” Plus, both children are doing well in school and involved in activities. “Now, we’re loving life and we’re living life.”
She is proud to be able to offer her children her time and attention in a safe, secure environment. “Today, I’m a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen. I am enrolled in school, studying early childhood development,” she says. “I’m learning life’s best lessons. Have you ever had a craving for something and then got it? That’s what this is.”