Katie Powers is only 32, but the roller-coaster life she has endured – and survived — has made her an older and wiser soul.
She credits SaintA case worker Angie Hurd with literally saving her life and says that, if not for Angie, her outcome probably would have been much different.
Katie was a heroin addict. As she struggled with her addiction, she was wise enough to realize that her lifestyle was endangering her daughter, Nadia. So when Nadia was 6, Katie transferred guardianship to her father and step-mother.
“I didn’t want to put her through this,” Katie said. “But giving her up was one of the hardest things I have ever done.”
About a year later, Katie gave birth to a son, Derek, who was born positive for drugs. The child welfare system got involved, but within a very short time Katie was fortunate enough to secure a spot in Meta House’s residential treatment program for mothers with substance abuse issues and their children. This was a pilot program with SaintA called Families Come First.
But when Angie went to Katie’s boyfriend’s father’s home to pick up her and the baby, to take them to Meta House, Katie had shot up, as Katie says sarcastically, “one last time.” By the time they got to Meta House, Katie was having a severe reaction and Angie ended up taking her to a hospital emergency room instead.
“Angie saved my life!” Katie said.
She ended up in the hospital for two weeks, and Derek was placed in foster care. Because the infection Katie had contracted was so bad, she could not use her arm, so she couldn’t care for Derek.
Angie followed through with the case and had several meetings with Meta House and Katie. A few weeks later, the Children in Need of Protective Services (CHIPS) order was dismissed and Derek was returned to Katie at Meta House.
“That was huge!” Angie said. “We were all right on her side; we wanted that baby to bond.”
Although Katie was determined to make things work, Meta House was “scary” for her.
“I was going from a crazy, fast-paced drug world, focused on getting money for drugs, getting high, then suddenly it all stops. It’s almost like your best friend is ripped from you.
“And then there are 60 or so other women there, and they’re all going through the same thing; they’re in withdrawal, their attitudes are the same, they have their kids.”
Katie now says she is really thankful for Meta House, for their allowing children to be with their mothers and for all the services they provide.
“They treat you as a whole person, they involve families, the children’s fathers, they have parenting classes,” she said.
As her in-home safety services worker, Angie visited Katie at Meta House, making sure she was doing what was needed.
“Angie is amazing at what she does. I thank God I had her. My recovery outcomes might have been very different if not for her.”
Katie said other women at Meta House often talked about their case workers and how they sometimes shamed them for their addictions and made them feel bad. Angie was never like that, she said.
“I was able to engage with her,” Angie said. “We kept advocating for her, letting her know we were in her corner.”
After six months in Meta House, Katie was able to transition to living with Derek in an apartment and then went to outpatient/day treatment. She admits to having two relapses, “a one-time thing each time.”
“I’m almost thankful about the second relapse, because then I didn’t like it any more. I didn’t enjoy it and how it made me feel,” Katie said.
Relapses are part of addiction, Angie said.
“But she was always bluntly honest; she told Meta House and they notified me. Katie was really afraid of letting me down. But she didn’t have that evasive behavior. She owned up to it both times.”
Then Katie tried to get her daughter back. She said Nadia had wanted to be with her the whole time. At the last minute, Katie’s father and step-mother changed their minds.
“They were viewing her through her past,” Angie said. “Katie was devastated. But she didn’t relapse!”
Although Angie’s involvement with Katie had formally ended when her case was closed out in January of 2012, the two stayed in touch every couple of months.
Then in the summer of 2013, Angie got a call. Katie had done everything she had been required to do and Nadia was returned home to her.
“I had willingly signed her over because I thought it was best for her …. the guardianship loss actually made me stronger,” Katie said. “I wanted a better life for myself and my kids, and I learned I can’t do it on drugs.
“When I first went to Meta House, I had to do it for my kids. By the time I left, I was doing it for myself. That’s what changed and why I’m clean.”
And she says Angie played a huge role in her story.
“I love Angie. I really do. She’s just a really good person … Everyone has a past and I can’t change what happened. I ‘m proud of where I am now, that I was able to stay clean and get my daughter back.
“I’m just so happy to have my right mind back!”