I ran away from home for the first time when I was 12 years old.  I used to go stay at my friends house, and I started to hang out with the “wrong crowd”.  One night they smoked weed and drank.  I was 13 years old and wanted to be cool, so I did what they did.

When I became interested in guys, at 14, I started running away in the middle of the night to be with them.  I started doing more drugs, more bad things, and hanging around with the Latin Kings from Aurora, Illinois. I met my son’s father at the age of 15, got pregnant at 16, and had a baby at 17.  My son’s father went to prison and I was left to raise a child by myself.  I had never had a job before.  I just robbed people, broke into houses, or stole from stores, taking whatever I wanted or needed.

But now, I had to change because I had a child to take care of.  I did change for a little while, I had a good job and was clean from drugs until I got bored and went back to using.  I was in and out of jail for fighting, stealing, and drug related reasons.  In 2003, I was shot by gang members. They were not sure I would make it but by the grace of God, I did.  

In 2005, I met a man named Mike who gave me a job, a car, a cell phone, and a beautiful house to live in.  It worked out for a little while until he found out all my money was going for drugs.  Then, I took off for 3 days without calling or showing up for work. He packed up all my stuff and dropped it at my moms.

Jobless again, I went back to stealing and got caught. My son was with me and I got arrested in front of my son, I knew it was time to change, not for me, but for him. I went to jail for 30 days to sober up and Mike bailed me out. The lawyer he hired talked to me about Teen Challenge.  I said to myself, “You’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. Why not?”

I agreed to come to Teen Challenge hoping to change and I have, I now have the Lord in my life. I have learned to act like a woman and not a monster.  My family even talks about God now.  They see what God has done for me.  But the most important part is that God has given me a second chance to live a Godly life and be a good mother.  I am taking my son to second phase with me.  Thank you Teen Challenge!