Success Story: Shelly

When asked to describe Shelly's transformation, her husband smiles and says, "From meth cook to Supermom." Shelly grew up with eight other siblings. Her mother was addicted to heroin and Shelly did not receive the care she needed and deserved as a young child.

Shelly was always smart and received good grades in school but she was a "problem child" in every other sense of the word. She continuously got into trouble in school, was expelled from three school districts, and bounced around from family member to family member. It is no surprise that by age 11 Shelly was using drugs, and at age 12 she was sent to do time in the Juvenile Youth Authority in California. She was lost because she was not provided with the support structure and guidance a child needs in order to be successful. Sadly, Shelly served two more prison sentences before she was ready to make changes. When reflecting back, she remembers making promises to everyone but herself. She now understands that "you don't make promises, especially not to children; instead, you show them by doing and by being there."

When Shelly was released from prison for the last time, she regained custody of her three children. She says that she will be forever grateful to the Post-Prison Education Program for helping her fight and win an out-of-state custody battle after which she was reunited with her youngest son, Steven (age 3).

When visiting Shelly's home one can immediately feel the love that surrounds her family: she lives in Tacoma with her three boys, ages 3, 10, and 14, her husband, and their new baby girl. They have worked very hard to build a home, and Shelly's children show obvious pride in the accomplishments their mother has made and continues to make every day.

Not only is Shelly a "supermom" but she is also a superwoman. She is one of two women currently in the Welding Program at Bates Technical College, from which she will be graduating this February with both an Associate of Arts degree as well as her certificates in stick and wire welding.

Shelly's oldest son, Jimmy (age 14), is an A student and is now helping his mother with her coursework. "Jimmy is going to end up helping me when I need assistance on math," Shelly laughs, "because he scored the highest statewide in both Math and English."

When asked about her transition process, Shelly responds, "the most important lesson I have learned throughout all the hardships is that I must stop thinking like an addict, needing instant gratification all of the time, and instead learn to maintain the balance between patience and persistence." It is this balance that has led Shelly to become an incredible success, a loving mother, an integral part of her family, and a straight A student.