Sydney S. has a bright future ahead. The brightest light just might be seeing her daughter for the first time in five years.
“I had a lot of trauma in my life,” said Sydney, who entered Cobb County Community Services Board’s (CCCSB) Mothers Making a Change (MMAC) program a year ago. “I am in recovery now and will graduate from college shortly. This program taught me how to deal with the events in my life that led me here. They (the MMAC team) taught me coping skills to help give my daughters a better life.”
On Nov. 1, Sydney and 19 other women graduated from MMAC, a highly structured, gender-specific, trauma responsive program that offers intensive services to pregnant women and women with children who are 18 years and older with substance use disorders. The event marked a special occasion as program participants’ successful completion of the program and their continuous growth as individuals in long-term recovery. More than 100 people attended the ceremony at Worship with Wonders Church in Marietta.
“There’s a reason why we call substance use disorders ‘cunning, baffling and powerful,’ and why it is considered a world-wide epidemic,” said Christina Bell, director of residential services at CCCSB. “This is one of the reasons we’re so proud and ecstatic we have 20 women graduating from our program.”
Bell said that because of the desire of the women to seek recovery, eight drug-free babies were born to mothers in the graduating class, and 44 children’s lives are changed because these mothers had the courage to finish the program.
“We watch women come into MMAC broken and beaten down, on the verge of giving up, but holding onto a glimmer of hope that says, ‘I can do this,’” Bell said. “After completing the program, we have women who now work toward, or have completed, college or professional career programs. We watch women become taxpayers and homeowners – productive members of society, who give back to the community through service work. Some of our graduates are looking to give back by working toward becoming peer specialists and professional addiction counselors.”
Through MMAC, individuals are empowered to get treatment and maintain their recovery, obtain and maintain employment, and consistently meet familial responsibilities. CCCSB assists in treatment, recovery and therapeutic childcare. The organization also helps in resolving legal obligations and makes referrals for safe, affordable housing to set up a seamless transition when individuals complete the program.
CCCSB works with the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and the courts to safely transition children back into the care of their mothers, as appropriate. Priority admission is given to pregnant mothers, IV users, individuals in inpatient treatment, and Cobb County residents.
For Sydney, her daughters were the motivation for staying in the program and giving back is a goal she looks forward to achieving.
“I plan on getting my peer support license,” Sydney said. “I want to help give back by helping others like me get through this.”
– Foster Norman, the CEO of the Cobb County Community Services Board.