HER Fam­ily

‘No sit­u­a­tion is hope­less’

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view con­ducted by Lindsey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

HER Mag­a­zine sat down this month with 31-year-old De­siree Skeya, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of The Hope Move­ment, a pro­gram with a mis­sion to help women move for­ward from an ad­dic­tive life­style. No stranger to ad­dic­tion her­self, Skeya is almost seven years sober from an ad­dic­tion to metham­phetamine, a habit that left her fac­ing 40 years to life in prison in 2011 for man­u­fac­tur­ing meth and for pos­ses­sion with in­tent to de­liver. Af­ter try­ing and fail­ing mul­ti­ple times to stay sober, she en­tered into a faith­based treat­ment pro­gram in July 2011 and turned her life around.

The Hope Move­ment ac­cepts ap­pli­ca­tions from women 18 years of age and older who have a his­tory of ad­dic­tion, have suc­cess­fully com­pleted a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or sub­stance abuse pro­gram, and are now clean and sober. Par­tic­i­pants live at The Hope Move­ment House for a de­ter­mined pe­riod of time. Visit http:// www.the­hope­move­ment.net or email de­siree@the­hope­move­ment.net for more in­for­ma­tion.

“No sit­u­a­tion is hope­less. For my­self, there were many times that peo­ple said, ‘That’s a lost cause. De­siree is never going to change.’ But look at me now, and that’s only through Christ. We are faith­based and we be­lieve that trans­for­ma­tion only hap­pens when you are fully de­voted to Je­sus Christ. There’s just no sit­u­a­tion that’s hope­less or lost. We be­lieve that here,” Skeya said.

How did your ad­dic­tion be­gin?

De­siree Skeya: I met an older guy when I was in high school, tried meth with him. When I was 18 years old both my bi­o­log­i­cal and my adopted fa­ther died six months from each other and it just re­ally went down­ward from there. It was a down­ward spi­ral. I started us­ing meth ev­ery day. Bad choices, not re­ally hav­ing the foun­da­tion of faith, not hav­ing a good sup­port sys­tem. I moved to Hot Springs for treat­ment, went to treat­ment, got out and started us­ing again, and then April 17, 2009, I ended up in jail for two Class Y felonies. But, when I was in jail I ac­cepted Je­sus Christ as my per­sonal Lord and sav­ior and got out of jail and my charges were dropped. But, be­cause of not hav­ing good liv­ing cir­cum­stances, I went right back to it.

What was rock bot­tom for you?

DS: Jail. Just sit­ting in jail, not hav­ing my fam­ily — they were pretty much done with me at that point, and with me liv­ing in Hot Springs and them be­ing in Moun­tain Home and hear­ing dif­fer­ent sto­ries. Just re­al­iz­ing, ‘Man, this is where my life has ended up. I’m fac­ing a lot of time in prison for hang­ing out with bad peo­ple and mak­ing bad choices.’

How long did you spend in jail?

DS: Almost seven months. But then, on July 20, 2011, I went into treat­ment at Re­cov­ery Point Min­istry and that just changed my whole life. I’ve never looked back and God has just con­tin­ued to bless me.

What is The Hope Move­ment?

DS: The Hope Move­ment is for women who strug­gle with ad­dic­tion. To come to The Hope Move­ment though, you have to com­plete a pro­gram be­fore com­ing here, so that can be the 12-week pro­gram in the jails. We just had a lady that grad­u­ated who came from Shalom. We have a lady who’s com­ing on Dec. 26 from RPM. The vi­sion of The Hope Move­ment is to help women move for­ward from an ad­dic­tive life­style, be­come fully de­voted fol­low­ers of Je­sus as they discover abun­dant life through Christ, and we stand on the Bi­ble verse John 10:10

The Hope Move­ment rec­og­nizes and as­sists in pro­vid­ing needs such as anger man­age­ment, they do faith and fi­nance, we have two that en­rolled in col­lege, so GED is an im­por­tant one. They start a bank ac­count when they get here, work readi­ness, Chris­tian coun­sel­ing, and they re­ceive that once a week. Just help­ing and mold­ing them to be­come self suf­fi­cient women when they leave here.

They also do a nu­tri­tion class. We help them to be­come healthy phys­i­cally, men­tally and spir­i­tu­ally. So, men­tor­ing, they have men­tors that come over. They also go to YMCA three times a week, that’s part of the classes they have to at­tend.

How many ladies are cur­rently in the pro­gram?

DS: Five. It can hold seven. And we’re smaller than a lot of places — you saw the bed­rooms, bath­rooms and clos­ets — we just felt like that was im­por­tant for them to have their own rooms and bath­rooms.

How did you be­come the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor?

DS: I was a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer for Judge Ohm, a dis­trict court pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer, and Greg (Bearss) tells the story that they bought the house and they were com­ing to the point where they were ready to move the ladies in but they just weren’t re­ally get­ting what they wanted in a di­rec­tor, so Greg when to Judge Ohm and said, ‘Hey, do you know any­body?’ Judge Ohm knows a lot of peo­ple that would be a good fit. So Judge Ohm told him, ‘I have a lady here that I think would be a good fit. I don’t want to lose her, but I think she could be a good fit.’ Greg said no, that she didn’t re­ally have the qual­i­fi­ca­tions that he thought he wanted.

So, he then talks to Casey Bright. Casey runs Qua­paw House. He said, ‘Casey, can you give me one of your peo­ple? Just let me have some­body,’ and Casey said, ‘Well, I don’t think any of my work­ers would be good for that but I know a lady who I think you could train up.’ It was me. Judge Ohm and Casey Bright gave Greg the same name within a day, so he al­ways says that it was a sign from God that this is who he needed for the job.

I didn’t ap­ply for the job, I didn’t know any­thing about the job, but I am ex­tremely blessed that God saw fit for me to have this job.

What are your day-to-day du­ties as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of The Hope Move­ment?

DS: A nor­mal day, when we get a new lady, we’re try­ing to get IDs, so­cial se­cu­rity cards, birth cer­tifi­cates, we’re help­ing them find a job, tak­ing care of med­i­cal sit­u­a­tions or con­di­tions that they haven’t taken care of in a re­ally long time. Fundrais­ing, I do a lot with fundrais­ing, I do a lot with the com­mu­nity to get the re­sources to help the ladies. Tak­ing them to work, tak­ing them to their classes, you name it. Tak­ing them to the col­lege, pre­par­ing them to get ready to be en­rolled in school. Prac­tice tests, drug testing, help­ing them to bud­get money. Just a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing.

Why do you en­joy your job?

DS: Be­ing able to see them re­ally, when the light goes off, know that they’re wor­thy and they’re loved and there is a bet­ter way of life. I know first­hand. But when you don’t know that, and a lot of these women come from bro­ken homes, so not re­ally know­ing what it is to truly be loved, and just when that light goes off and you see them talk­ing with their chil­dren about Christ and you just see a trans­for­ma­tion. When you see that trans­for­ma­tion that only God can do in their lives, that’s what keeps me com­ing back, to see them have restora­tion with their fam­i­lies, to see them have restora­tion with their chil­dren, to see what Satan meant for harm and to see God turn that around. That is the beauty of my job.

How long do the ladies live at The Hope Move­ment House?

DS: It’s very in­di­vid­u­al­ized here, be­cause we might have some­one who went to a 12-week pro­gram in jail and then some­one else who comes in who has been in treat­ment for nine months. They’re going to be at dif­fer­ent lev­els so they can stay here any­where from six months to 12 months. We would never kick any­one out — we want them to be able to be self suf­fi­cient and sta­ble when they leave here. So, if you don’t have a driver’s li­cense and you’ve been here a year, it’s prob­a­bly not going to be good for you to leave be­cause to make it out there, you need to be able to drive. If you’re leav­ing here and you’re going to go back and live at your mom and dad’s house, that’s not — we want them to have their own place, have a ve­hi­cle, have a driver’s li­cense. We want them to move for­ward.

Are they al­lowed to have their own ve­hi­cles while liv­ing at the house?

DS: They can have a ve­hi­cle but, how that works is, we’re re­ally just teach­ing them to be ac­count­able and self suf­fi­cient, so if they have a ve­hi­cle here, it’ll be searched, and we have to know where they’re going at all times. We have some ladies that come from, for in­stance, Judge Wright or Judge Ohm, so that means they have to have a staff mem­ber with them. We do have two ve­hi­cles here at The Hope Move­ment that we al­low the ladies to drive once they’ve been here three months.

Is there a wait­ing list to get into The Hope Move­ment pro­gram?

DS: I have seven ap­pli­cants I’m going to see Thurs­day at the jail from other pro­grams. The process is that you have to com­plete a pro­gram and then we meet with them and de­ter­mine when they can come here. But, we’re lim­ited on space and since there’s not an ex­act time on how long an in­di­vid­ual is here, it’s hard to say, be­cause we don’t want to rush them out, we don’t want them to fail when they leave here.

Will the pro­gram ever ex­pand?

DS: Of course we would love, later down the line, to grow, but not grow nec­es­sar­ily in this house, but with other houses. The im­por­tance here is that we can have one-on-one time and help­ing them feel as a fam­ily. Hav­ing din­ner to­gether, that’s some­thing a lot of them have never had. They do morn­ing devo­tion to­gether, they do night­time devo­tion to­gether. I think it’s good to have the close­ness of a fam­ily.

Candice Davis, left, De­siree Skeya, Michelle bree­z­ley, and Kimberly Gille­spie.

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