Although we live in a world in which almost everyone is glued to their phone and avoids personal contact, it’s helpful to remember that connecting with others in person, around a table, still has tremendous value and can change lives.
Personal connection is one of the impactful components of the Milwaukee Women’s Center’s Positive Options for Women Entering Recovering (POWER) program, a no-cost mental health/substance use disorder program for women working toward a better life. Each woman helps to create her own treatment plan with a counselor centered around her unique experiences, life circumstances, and goals. Part of the POWER program is sharing experiences with other women who have been there and done that and learning from each other.
One of the women who believes in the power of connecting is Chandrea, who likes to be called "April," who’s been in the POWER program since the beginning of 2018, when she was struggling with addiction to marijuana and her children were taken out of her care. In POWER’s groups, "I get motivation, counseling, and I get to know other people and know that my situation isn’t any better or worse than anybody else’s," she says. "I sit at a table with women who had been there before or are going through the same things I am going through."
Through the groups and while working with her counselor, April learned new ways to cope with stress and to stay clean and sober. "I use a lot of coping skills and they help a lot with my triggers to marijuana and getting through things," April says. "I know that life isn’t an easy ride and to have my mind set on what I want to do with my life."
Her relationship with her kids has improved, too.
"There’s a huge difference in how I take care of them now. I give them time outs and I talk to them and I listen to them," April says.
With the help of POWER’s staff and her case manager, Linda Cobbs, April moved into a drug-free environment and is thriving. April recently obtained her license to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF) and is working as a health aide.
"I love my counselor, Miss Linda. Everyone at POWER are like family to me. I appreciate all the help they do for me," April says.
Linda Cobbs returned the compliment.
"April has worked hard to improve her life," she said. "She takes good care of her children, including her new baby, who was born premature, and she’s making good decisions about her future. She is an example of how making a commitment to the POWER program can result in big changes. We are proud of her!"