Ashley’s Story: A Celebration of The Women with Children Program’s Success

By Justin Feltman

imageAshley fell into postpartum depression when she had her daughter, who is almost now 3 years old. On top of that, she was stuck in a very bad relationship. To cope with it, she began using. “I was in a really bad place and was using a lot, but, all that I was using, it never seemed like enough,” she recalled. Then, Ashley found out she was pregnant with her son.

“When I found out I was pregnant with him, it was either keep using or get clean. I left [the relationship], and went to my mom and aunt for help. My aunt, she used to use. And she went to Lazarus House.” With that, Ashley came to Samaritan Inns, entering the 28-day Adult Treatment Program.

While in treatment, Judy Ashburn, our Director of Treatment Programs, mentioned the new Women with Children Program to her as the next step after her 28 days in treatment.

Last year, Samaritan Inns launched our Women with Children Program at the Clark Inn, the first such program in the District of Columbia. Samaritan Inns’ landmark Women with Children Program addresses one of the most critically underserved populations in the District of Columbia by providing comprehensive treatment and recovery services to women who are battling substance use disorders and homelessness while providing care for their children at the same location.

Since substance use affects the entire family unit; healing and recovery must involve the whole family. From this philosophy, Samaritan Inns used their 30 years of experience to create a program designed to preserve and heal the entire family unit.

The program offers mothers counseling and therapy from licensed clinicians, case management services, family therapy sessions, child development services, and much more over the course of our 6-month program.

The biggest challenge was opening up and trusting that she was in a safe space to share. “You have to talk about your feelings and why you used, how you’re not going to use. I mean, you have to be 100% open. I lied to protect myself. Pretty much because I felt embarrassed,” Ashley shared.

But eventually, the staff, over the course of her stay, earned her trust. “I finally let my guard down. I think after 90 days here, my halfway point, I became a new person.” Once she experienced this change, she opened up to the staff, to the other mothers, and to the treatment programming.

“I made friendships here, I still keep up,” she shared about the staff and fellow residents, “It’s like having siblings.” “You’re never really alone. If you need a break or need some advice, you always have someone there to help you and guide you.” Beyond just the parenting classes focusing on Ashley and her kids, Samaritan Inns offered classes to help heal the relationship between Ashley and her mother. “We never really had a relationship. We always butt heads,” she confessed, “But now, after the therapy, we understand each other a lot more. It gets better day by day.”

When asked what the best advice she received while in the program, she responded, “Be true to yourself first. Because if you can’t be true to yourself, first, there is no hope in what you can do.”

Leaving Samaritan Inns was bittersweet. She wanted to stay but knew it was time for the next chapter. So the staff connected her with a transitional housing facility, where she currently resides.

10 days after leaving Clark Inn, she gave birth to her son. She just returned to school at Prospect College, where she’s taking an 8-month medical assistance program and acquiring a phlebotomy license. From there, she hopes to create a career in medicine and create a bright future for her children.

As we reflect on the 1 year anniversary of the Women with Children Program, stories such as Ashley’s highlight the importance of such a program and the bright future that it provides. Clark Inn stands as a symbol of hope for our city and our mothers, who are wrestling with these issues, for many years to come.

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