Charles’s Story - The Meeting Place Mission
“I was given the opportunity to come to The Meeting Place Oct. 12, 2018. I was on a list of applicants for a month before admittance. I was told by staff not to use any substances while I was on the waiting list, and I complied. This was a pivotal time in my life spiraling out of control, due to my drug addiction and mental health. On the day of admittance to the program, I felt hopeless. A million negative thoughts raced through my mind, telling me I was hopeless; but the supportive nature of the staff gave me a glimmer of hope which I have today. The structured nature of the program and counseling sessions has helped me to put structure in my daily living. I am with a mental program now, taking my meds daily, and going to meetings for my substance abuse. I also do volunteer work. All these things were made possible through the Meeting Place Mission program. I stand today feeling hopeful not hopeless.”
Annie’s Story - Options, Inc.
Annie* was home with her children when her ex showed up under the influence saying he wanted to see his children. She refused and told him to leave or she would call the police. He shoved Annie, and she fell on the coffee table, then onto the concrete floor, breaking her back. After being released from the hospital, her Options court advocate assisted her in getting her a protection order. He was originally only charged with assault on a female, but the advocate used her strong working relationship with the DA office to add an additional charge of assault inflicting serious injury, and he was locked away. While in prison, he started calling Annie again saying he wanted to talk to his son. His action caused Annie to seek Options again to get the protection order renewed before he was released. He is still in prison, but Annie still suffers from the abuse. She is no longer able to drive or work because of her back injury. She has permanent nerve damage and chronic pain. The advocate has transported her to court for all hearings, and Options has provided her with Christmas and rental assistance. The court advocate also was able to coordinate Legal Aid to provide free legal services for child custody. Annie has always worked, but now has a court date for disability. She is a fighter and is going to college in hopes that she can be healed and become an advocate herself someday. She not only survived but plans to strive.
*Name changed for her safety.
Brenda’s Story - Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC
Brenda is an 14 year old 8th grader in Burke County who came into our program at the age of 10. Brenda began the school-based program through Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC after attending an Information Night at St. Charles Catholic Church. Brenda and her mom attended with an interest in having a mentor assist her with Math. Brenda’s teacher at the time said that Brenda was a good student with “A” potential but lacked the confidence to get there. He felt a mentor would greatly help her confidence socially and academically. During the next second and third nine weeks of school, Brenda made “A/B” honor roll. Today, Brenda is on the “A” honor roll. She is also in the marching band and sings in the school choir. Brenda is one of our great success stories of improvement in potential with an effective program and committed volunteers, invested in building friendships with a purpose; that inspires and empowers youth.
Elidia’s Story - Burke County Literacy Council
Elidia is a hard-working, loving, kind woman from Guatemala who came to the United States six years ago with her two sisters and brother and their children. Although she has no children of her own, she is a primary caregiver for her brother's son Ricardo, who is four years of age. Elidia started coming to Project Flower at the Burke Literacy Council approximately five years ago. She faithfully brings Ricardo with her to participate in the childcare learning portion of the Project Flower program. This has been incredibly beneficial to Ricardo as he is learning the English language, and Elidia and Ricardo are working together to practice English on a regular basis.
Elidia states that the most difficult transition to the United States has been learning English and finding transportation when needed. Elidia has major medical issues that require not only ongoing surgeries, but also regular contact with medical professionals. She says that Project Flower has assisted her tremendously in learning English so that communicating with these professionals has become easier over time.
Elidia's goal is to become fluent in English and to help others learn English as well. She has also been instrumental in not only inviting others to come and enroll in Project Flower classes, but also in making them feel truly welcomed. She is such a nice addition to the Project Flower program!
Yesman’s Story - Good Samaritan Clinic
In November 2018, 8 year old Yesman crossed the border from Guatemala with her mother to be with her father, a farmworker, and sister here in Burke County. Once enrolled in school, teachers noticed Yesman would turn blue and be out of breath. The school said she could not return until she saw a cardiologist. Yesman’s mom reached out to Good Samaritan Clinic and their NC Farmworker Health Program looking for guidance.
The Good Samaritan Clinic made arrangements with a cardiologist partner at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and transported mom and Yesman to Charlotte. Levine determined Yesman had a significant heart murmur and hole between her valves and needed surgery soon or she would die. But before they could do surgery, she had a couple of teeth that needed to be removed. Yesman was taken to the ECU dental school in Spruce Pine, a Good Samaritan partner, where Dr. Stacy was able to remove one tooth safely. He became concerned by her heart diagnosis and how best to put her to sleep to remove the other, so he collaborated with her cardiologist at Levine and they were able to remove the difficult tooth at the same time as her heart surgery. In the spring of 2019, open heart surgery was successful and saved Yesman's precious life. She is now able to play with her big sister and classmates without fear of her heart stopping.
After surgery, her parents became overwhelmed with medical bills. The Good Samaritan Clinic Farmworker team applied for emergency Medicaid for Yesman and on July 23, 2019, she was approved and her expenses will be covered. Her parents cry tears of gratitude and joy for the help they have received. This story is an example of the work we do every day, and the statewide collaboration of our partnerships and how when we pull together, we save lives!\
Students Talk Drugs - Burke Recovery
When Burke Recovery is invited to do a classroom or group presentation regarding substance use/misuse prevention, the reactions are often mixed. What we have found, however, is that the honesty and awareness realized through these presentations makes the message more profound. Here are some responses and insights shared from students in these presentations; hearing their perceptions serves to enlighten us as prevention specialists as well as show the true pervasiveness of substance use in the youth of Burke County.
"Yes, I've been to a Skittles Party. These happen in Burke County. But I didn't know I could die." - 10th grade student
"So what you're telling us is that in order to keep ourselves and our bodies safe...don't start vaping." - 6th grade student
"I can't believe the tobacco industry has tricked us and we fell right for their lies." - 8th grade student
"Marijuana causes memory loss? I had no idea...I thought it was good for because it cures cancer." - 11th grade student
"So a blackout is when your brain is asleep but your body is still moving? How is that possible?" - 10th grade student
"As long as a prescription pill comes from my parents, it's OK right?" - 10th grade student