Katelyn began using at the age of 18 and continued to use until age 22. As she says…solemnly, “It wasn’t long, but it was long enough to lose everything.” Among the losses were her two daughters, four and two years old. In addition, she almost lost her freedom.
“I caught a grand larceny charge when I was nine months pregnant with my second child,” she shares. “The judge “nudged me into treatment but I couldn’t stick with it.” After delivering the baby (who was placed in foster care with the same family who adopted her first daughter), Katelyn continued to use and was turned into the judge. He gave her an ultimatum…four years in prison or treatment at Hannick Hall. “I went into Hannick Hall on May 3, 2012 kicking and screaming. I was a smoker and I couldn’t smoke there, but I kept ‘fakin it’ and after about a week and a half I started to get into the structure of Hannick.” Three weeks into her treatment program, Katelyn’s boyfriend paid a visit.
“Within just a few minutes of his being there I broke several program rules, including smoking on the property.” Katelyn, who had suffered abuse from this man for years, finally experienced an epiphany when he encouraged her to just leave Hannick Hall, go serve her prison sentence and then return to her life with him. She chose to stay. The staff, rather than dismissing her from the program which they could have done, stayed with her every step of the way to her sobriety. “I used Hannick Hall to cut off all contact with him, to break away from him and get out of a very abusive relationship.” On November 28, 2012 (her daughter’s birthday), Katelyn graduated from Hannick Hall.
“I went on to supportive living, joined AA and got a sponsor,” says Katelyn. “When I walked into Hannick Hall I had a pair of shoes in a bag and a laundry basket of clothes. Today, I manage the Salvatore’s in Newark, go to FLCC where I’m studying Psychology, have a beautiful apartment, a circle of supportive friends and a very healthy relationship with a good man who supports my recovery.” Katelyn’s dream is to work full time as a psychologist.
She also dreamed of getting her daughters back and fought hard to do so (they were adopted by the family who fostered them as babies). “Shirley (Withey, Hannick Hall House Coordinator) was with me every step of the way,” says Katelyn.
That dream did not come true, but as Katelyn says, “that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” She has recognized and accepted what is best for the girls. In the last year she has seen them three times. “Their adoptive mother is their ‘mom’ but they know I love them and to them I’m ‘Mama Katelyn’.”
Of her life now, at just 25 years old, Katelyn says “It’s very blessed and a complete turnaround.” Of what she would tell others about supporting the work of Hannick Hall, she says, “If you want to clean up your neighborhood, live without fear of being robbed, have a better community, then supporting this program is important. How much money do you want to spend on jails? And jails don’t change people, but this program does. Hannick Hall changed a crackhead to a psychologist. You should spend your tax dollars wisely.”
Katelyn’s resolve is inspiring and her willingness to share her story is courageous.
A quick overview of Family and Community Services