Chiquita and Chance

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Chiquita Lewis, a graduate of the BridgeBuilders Employment Training Program, has experienced one of a parents’ greatest fears, having a child taken from her. Chiquita came to Texas in 2005, leaving Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. After six years of living a wild lifestyle in Texas, she had her son Chance and decided to head back home, in hopes of finding support. Although she brought the lone grandchild of the family, Chiquita was not able to find help from her incarcerated mother and transient father.

Still searching for support and a safe place, Chiquita moved back to Texas in August of 2014 hoping things would be different. But she stepped back into her old neighborhood…and her old lifestyle of drugs.

“I realized it was not what I wanted,” Chiquita said of her relapse. “Chance was older, I didn’t want him around these people, or in this house, so I went to Nexus Recovery Center.”

Chiquita began at Nexus in the fall of last year, completed the program, but was unable to find stable housing, and once again slipped into her addiction. Not long after, Child Protective Services came knocking, and upon Chiquita’s admission of relapse, took Chance in February.

I laid in bed, every night not knowing what kind of family has my kid…the guilt…the shame.”

Chiquita had new resolve to pull her life together, and took a series of steps to get her son back, starting with another stay at Nexus. Next Chiquita moved to Angels Recovery House and found a stable spiritual environment at Living Word Ministries.

“I surrendered because it was the only thing left to do, I tried everything else,” Chiquita said of giving her life to God. “I continued to trust in God, believing in God and knowing that He can change me.”

“I was in a dark place, I didn’t feel anything but hopelessness, I couldn’t make them give me my son back, and that’s all that matters to me. I surrendered and prayed, every day, and still do because I know who’s in charge, who helps, who loves me and my son, and who wants the best for us.”

Along with getting her spiritual walk on track, Chiquita also needed a job. After an unsuccessful attempt with a work agency, and an inconsistent job, Chiquita realized something, “I needed training, to know how to present myself.” She saw a flyer for BridgeBuilders and joined our Employment Training Service in June of this year.

“When I got here, all I thought was that it was to train me for a job, but I got so much more out of it. Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse (BridgeBuilders Trainers) were always hands on, the volunteers were friendly faces, the words of encouragement, just for them giving me a chance, opening the door to so much in my life right now.”

“I am confident, mentally I’m shaped and molded, still have some way to go, but I’m willing. I know I can’t do it by myself, but I have a support network, with BridgeBuilders and Nexus.”

Through BridgeBuilders Chiquita got a job with our corporate partner, Omni Hotels. She is also on the advisory board at Nexus, and is hoping to start a group at Nexus to support mothers going through addiction, to help them find the hope that she found.

Chance at picture day earlier this month

The best news is that just one month ago, Chance came home, after eight months away…to a happy, healthy, loving mother.

“With my son, I look at every day like it’s the last day with him, because I’ve experienced that, every day I wake up with this in front of me. In the middle of the night I’m going and looking at him, checking on him, and can’t believe my son is here. I’m not going to give that up for the world.”

“Looking back, everything happened the way it was supposed to, because of how I feel now. I know exactly what’s important to me, and the things I want to do later in life…to reach out to other people that are struggling in the areas I was struggling.”

“I’m glad that God gave me this opportunity, gave me another chance to be a momma to Chance. That’s all I want right now in life, to improve in that area, understand life more…and being there for Chance, and others who are feeling hopeless, who don’t think there’s a way out.”