February 21, 2011

Allison’s Story

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:11 pm by Lund

In the common room of her apartment building, Allison introduces me to her two-year-old daughter Olivia, who is energetically playing with toy cars scattered about the living room.  “Hi” Olivia says in a loud, happy voice.  “Mommy! My toy is stuck in the door!” Olivia yells.  “Turn it sideways, I know you can fix it,” Allison responds with a laugh.  I explain to Allison that I’m here to learn about her experience with teen pregnancy, and how Lund was able to help her support her goals.  Allison is honest and outgoing as she speaks, and over the course of the next half hour she shares with me the following story.

Allison became pregnant with her daughter Olivia when she was nineteen.  She continued dating Olivia’s father for two years, despite the dangers of his drug use and mental abuse.  Allison made the decision to end the relationship last April, and contacted Lund about suitable treatment programs for herself that would allow her to continue living with her daughter.  She was accepted into Lund Family Center’s Residential Treatment Program in May.

At first, Allison found it difficult to switch from living independently to engaging in a highly structured program.  She worked her way through the tightly scheduled curriculum that integrated education, parenting and life skills, and mental health treatment.  Coming from an emotionally-abusive relationship, Allison had undiagnosed mental health needs for a long time.  Healing for Allison is an ongoing process that requires courage and determination.  As Allison acclimated to life in the Residential Treatment Program at Lund, she earned reward points throughout the day for good behavior like initiating and completing chores, and quickly obtained increasing privileges at the center. 

Allison gradually began to understand her thinking process, which allowed her to open up and trust the people working with her.  She found classes about relationships and psychology offered in the treatment program very helpful because they illuminated her understanding of her emotions and behavior around others.  Allison worked closely with her case manager, and emphasized the importance of her support team at the Residential Treatment Program.  The team was pivotal to her success because, as she says, “living with 26 girls was not always easy.”

In November 2010, Allison completed Lund Family Center’s Residential Treatment Program and transitioned to Independence Place, an apartment-style housing arrangement operated by the Burlington Housing Authority in partnership with Lund. At Independence Place, Allison lives in a studio apartment and shares common space and a kitchen with six other women and their children. Team Meetings and House Meetings are held regularly to allow residents to cook together, help one another with errands, chores, and childcare, and exchange advice.  Independence Place has a counselor on site 24/7 to provide support, guidance, and outreach to community services that assist women and their children by securing the resources they need to live independently.

Allison is a familiar face around Lund Family Center. She has worked incredibly hard to deal with her past, and she brightens every room with her confidence, friendly conversation, and sense of humor. Allison recently passed her driver’s license exam and began working part-time for Lund as a Replication student, a job training program that provides women with marketable skills by engaging them in a variety of positions at Lund and in the community.  Positions range from office support to cooking and cleaning. Next fall, she plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and Social Work at Community College of Vermont. Allison also serves on the traveling Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Panel four to five times per month, where she tells her story of unplanned pregnancy to high school students throughout Vermont.

Allison advises girls in the Residential Program to “Be open, honest, and work hard. Getting better doesn’t come easily, it requires determination and strength.” 

1 Comment »

  1. Gary Coryer said,

    Sounds like Allison has made huge steps forward to improve both her life and her daughters life. Hero’s like her provide a great example to others.

    Allison, Keep up the great job.

    To the Folks at Lund: Thanks for providing programs that enable young mother’s to provide better and happier lives for their children. You folks always do such a great job.

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