"A Journey Forward" - Sept-Oct Newsletter
Growing up in Knoxville, the early part of Ti's life was fairly quiet. She and her mother lived with her grandmother who always made sure that they attended church. However, around the age of 12, things took a turn for the worse. Her mother remarried, and her stepfather began molesting her. "I was surrounded by drugs, violence, gamblers, and prostitutes," Ti states. "It was really all I knew."
Like many others, Ti became a product of her environment growing up. She had two stints behind bars on drug charges. In an effort to turn her life around, Ti went through a short term drug rehab program that lasted 29 days. The program wasn't long enough for her and lacked an important piece, support transitioning back into society. Ti relapsed, and acquired a third drug charge.
In 2009, Ti came to Nashville to enter Thistle Farms recovery program for women called Magdalene. Magdalene specializes in serving women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets. Ti still had to return to court to face her last drug charge. She received a three year sentence.
However, this time her incarceration time was different: "The first two times I was in prison, I had no one to write to me, no one visited me, and I had no place to go when I got out. But this time, people from Magdalene came to visit me regularly, sent me packages and letters, and I knew I had a place to go when I got out." Not surprisingly, this made all the difference for Ti. While in prison she took advantage of every opportunity she could to better herself, taking classes and earning her GED. She returned to Magdalene's residential recovery program following completion of her sentence.
New Level CDC entered Ti's life through a partnership between it and the Magdalene program that links housing with supportive services while women adapt to living on their own. New Level CDC provides affordable rental housing while Magdalene provides a strong support system. "I love New Level," says Ti. "The house is clean and safe, the rent is affordable, and this is the first time in over eight years that I have a place to call my own."
Ti recently graduated from the Magdalene program, works full-time for Thistle Farms as an associate-manager and travels around the country with Thistle Farms telling her story. To help her stay on sound financial footing she is working with New Level CDC's financial coaching program to help fulfill her dreams---something she now believes is possible.