Pro­gram cel­e­brates sub­stance abuse and men­tal health re­cov­ery

Pauline Rose Moore, au­thor of “Gabriella & Sa­man­tha’s New Mom,” spreads mes­sage about re­cov­ery at Fam­ily Ser­vice Foun­da­tion, Inc. event in Lan­dover Hills

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JClink_En­qGaz

Fo­cus­ing on men­tal health and sub­stance use re­cov­ery in an ef­fort to en­cour­age growth, change lives and en­rich com­mu­ni­ties, the Prince Ge­orge’s County Fam­ily Ser­vice Foun­da­tion (FSF), Inc. hosted a “Choose Re­cov­ery 2016” pro­gram cel­e­bra­tion on May 20 in Lan­dover Hills.

FSF is a non­profit hu­man ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion – head­quar­tered in Lan­dover Hills – ded­i­cated to meet­ing the men­tal health and so­cial sup­port needs of peo­ple across Mary­land. The foun­da­tion pro­vides men­tal health ser­vices, sub­stance abuse coun­sel­ing, com­mu­nity res­i­den­tial pro­grams for those with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties and/or se­vere men­tal ill­ness and day ha­bil­i­ta­tion. In ad­di­tion, FSF spe­cial­izes in serv­ing deaf and deaf-blind in­di­vid­u­als with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties or men­tal health con­cerns. Full-time in­ter­preters flu­ent in Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage are avail­able at other satel­lite lo­ca­tions in Bal­ti­more, Mont­gomery and Fred­er­ick coun­ties, ac­cord­ing to the FSF web­site.

“I love to in­te­grate the com­mu­nity. The sub­stance abuse needs to be there be­cause it’s not some­thing that’s ad­dressed,” said 24-year-old Whit­ney Blake­ley, a com­mu­nity sup­port pro­fes­sional at the foun­da­tion who cur­rently at­tends Bowie State Univer­sity. “So many peo­ple are suf­fer­ing from co-oc­cur­ring dis­or­ders and they’re ei­ther get­ting the sub­stance abuse treated or the men­tal health treated. That’s just not some­thing that’s go­ing to be ac­cept­able any­more be­cause they need both to be able to be whole. So hav­ing this pro­gram is re­ally what drove me and hav­ing the sup­port from this agency is amazing.”

The event fea­tured a few tes­ti­mo­ni­als from clients who shared how the foun­da­tion’s ser­vices ben­e­fit­ted them, and a po­etry slam which show­cased their pub­lic speak­ing or mu­si­cal tal­ents. Pauline Rose Moore of Bowie – a former foun­da­tion em­ployee now turned mo­ti­va­tional speaker, au­thor and teacher – was the guest speaker.

San­dra McClain, a na­tive of Rich­mond, Va., who was di­ag­nosed with men­tal ill­ness two years af­ter high school, shared her tes­ti­mo­nial about how the FSF changed her life.

McClain said she had been in dif­fer­ent pro­grams for most of her life. She not only dealt with per­sonal is­sues but also symp­toms like mov­ing her neck and star­ing as a re­sult of her men­tal ill­ness, which had re­lapsed at one point when she was try­ing to get bet­ter.

But thanks to the help from the foun­da­tion, McClain man­aged to get over a lot of things by find­ing peace and was able to take back control of her life. She said she learned how to en­cour­age and ed­u­cate her­self and en­joys sketch­ing pic­tures as a hobby to keep her calm.

“I’ve come a long way,” McClain said as she stood un­der a tent and ad­dressed a small crowd. “I’m do­ing a lot bet­ter and I have re­cov­ered from a lot of men­tal ill­nesses, so you can re­cover and you can get bet­ter. The lit­tle things that I was do­ing be­fore I ac­tu­ally don’t do any­more. … I al­ways stayed in some type of pro­gram which I think kept me out of trou­ble be­cause if you don’t have any­thing to do in your [free] time, that tends to make you get into the wrong things. So be­ing in a pro­gram has helped me out a lot. … I en­cour­age ev­ery­body that you can get bet­ter, act bet­ter and you can do it.”

Moore shared her per­sonal jour­ney of deal­ing with hard­ships – in­clud­ing be­ing mo­lested at a young age – and how she over­came chal­lenges through faith and triumph.

Moore’s bi­o­log­i­cal parents, both of whom served in the Air Force, suf­fered from al­co­hol and co­caine abuse. As a re­sult, Moore and her six other sib­lings were placed in fos­ter care.

“I come to you as a child of parents who have cho­sen re­cov­ery not only from al­co­hol but also co­caine,” said Moore, who has served in the Air Force Re­serves for al­most 10 years. “For me, I was blessed be­cause my very first fos­ter mom re­mained con­sis­tently in my life through­out all the years I was in fos­ter care up un­til adop­tion and even un­til this day. So by hav­ing that con­sis­tent per­son right there, she kind of be­came what they call a CASA [court ap­pointed spe­cial ad­vo­cate]. What they do is they help kids, who are in fos­ter care, find safe and lov­ing homes.”

Moore said serv­ing in the mil­i­tary sus­tained and al­lowed her to have a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties, some­thing she wouldn’t have had liv­ing with her bi­o­log­i­cal parents.

“My mom and dad had to make some choices and they weren’t the best choices be­cause you can imag­ine the kind of hurt and the pain that they must have ex­pe­ri­enced by los­ing all of their chil­dren,” she said. “The way that I was able to cope with everything that I dealt with is through de­tach­ment. … I can’t say that I re­ally felt joy dur­ing those years be­cause I don’t re­mem­ber. You for­get about those things and you sup­press things and things just go on.”

As time went on, Moore said her bi­o­log­i­cal father sup­pressed his pain with food which caused him to gain up to 600 pounds. Moore’s mom was in­car­cer­ated but even­tu­ally got out and was able to go to col­lege where she re­ceived both a bach­e­lor’s and master’s de­gree.

“I don’t know how many of you are faith be­liev­ing but I be­lieve in God. She [my mom] ac­tu­ally ended up work­ing for the same agency that took us. You look at that and you’re like, ‘ Man there must be a God in that be­cause how is that pos­si­ble? How does the same agency that takes your chil­dren, you end up go­ing back to work for them?,” said Moore. “I’m say­ing all of this to say to you that there’s still hope. You may not re­al­ize that everything you may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing right now, you don’t know what that fi­nal [out­come] is go­ing to be. Per­haps you have chil­dren that you don’t have a re­la­tion­ship with, or you have not been rec­on­ciled with them or maybe that you may know peo­ple who are cur­rently strug­gling with what­ever is­sues be­cause of mom, dad or what­ever. But there’s still light, there’s still hope, there’s still pur­pose and plan. Had those things not hap­pened to me, I wouldn’t be stand­ing here. I wouldn’t be shar­ing this story with you.”

Moore said it wasn’t un­til 2013, a time when she was still on ac­tive duty, that she de­cided to rec­on­cile her re­la­tion­ship with her bi­o­log­i­cal mom.

“I was at work one day and I’m at my desk and all of the sud­den, [the holy spirit spoke to and nudged me to call her],” she said. “It was just like press­ing to, ‘Call her, call her, call her.’ And then all of a sud­den, I started cry­ing and I’m like what is this? … I got up and walked out­side and I took the phone with me and I called her. … She an­swers the call and she’s just like, ‘Pauline?’ and I just said, ‘I for­give you.’ But here’s the thing – she had been wait­ing for that. The thing about for­give­ness that peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is that … it’s our job to just say, ‘You know what? I for­give that per­son. I’m mov­ing on with my life and will push for­ward.’ Now un­der­stand, you don’t have to tell them if you’re not lead to tell them. How­ever, you do have to for­give them.”

The mar­ried mom-of-two, who is cur­rently en­rolled at the Howard School of Divin­ity where she will grad­u­ate next year, en­cour­aged the au­di­ence to take the good, the bad and the ugly and learn to love them­selves and their story.

“I know that when you choose re­cov­ery, there’s this guilt. There’s this lin­ger­ing hurt and there’s this pain that says, ‘Man, I’ve made all of th­ese mis­takes up un­til now.’ But that’s not where you need to be,” Moore said. “There are things and gifts within you and the only way you’re go­ing to be able to dis­cover them is if you take a closer look at you. … I love my story and I wouldn’t change any­thing about it. … Love your­self. Love your story. Choose re­cov­ery. Know that there’s hope and God is in control. Fo­cus on you.”

Blake­ley, whose last day at the foun­da­tion was the day of the event, said hav­ing Moore speak was like the ic­ing on the cake for her.

“She has that ex­tra piece that is of­ten miss­ing from the care we al­ready pro­vide here,” Blake­ley said. “This event is not about me. It’s not about my story. It’s about the clients, what they need to hear and the peo­ple who are will­ing to speak and share their story.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Pauline Rose Moore of Bowie, right, takes cen­ter stage as the guest speaker for the Prince Ge­orge’s County Fam­ily Ser­vice Foun­da­tion, Inc.’s “Choose Re­cov­ery 2016” pro­gram cel­e­bra­tion on May 20 in Lan­dover Hills. Moore – au­thor of a chil­dren’s book called “Gabriella & Sa­man­tha’s New Mom” – is a former foun­da­tion em­ployee who has now served in the Air Force Re­serves for al­most 10 years. Moore shared her story about over­com­ing hard­ships as a fos­ter child and the im­por­tance of choos­ing re­cov­ery. Her bi­o­log­i­cal parents re­cov­ered from al­co­hol and co­caine abuse.

My­chele Lynn, top left, smiles as Whit­ney Blake­ley presents her with the first place tro­phy for the po­etry slam contest.

James Mills, aka “Nuck Flames,” top cen­ter, gets the crowd fired up as he per­forms a rap­ping stint dur­ing the po­etry slam. Mills won sec­ond place for the contest.

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