Success Stories

Belinda Nerlove, Graduate and Alumni

Belinda

I am a single mother of two daughters: McKayla, age 5 and Erin, age 8. Before entering treatment at Center Point in San Rafael, I had been living in a motel for almost a year with my children. On New Year's Day, 2010, the police came knocking on the door on an unrelated matter and were shocked and disturbed by the state of affairs in room 114. At that point, Child Protective Services stepped in and removed the children while I was arrested on an outstanding warrant and sited for drug possession.

After 20 days' time served, I contacted CPS to regain custody of my girls, who, at the time, were ages 2 and 4. CPS stipulated that I receive treatment for my substance abuse or I would not be allowed to continue as the primary caregiver of my children. I was referred to Center Point as it had a reputation for being "tough" and was a program that offered services that could benefit me and my struggling family.

By April 2010, I found myself beginning the Intensive Phase of my 6 month stay in Residential. I began attending groups that centered on topics such as Life Skills, Parenting, Anger Management, and Relapse Prevention. I learned how to incorporate important concepts into my daily life, such as Integrity, Responsibility, Effort, & Initiative. Through the group process and writing assignments, I developed useful tools that have helped me to remain sober now for almost 4 years.

Before entering treatment I had been unsuccessful in keeping any sort of stable housing or employment. At Center Point, I received support in Job Readiness and before I even left residential I had found a full time job. I am still working and continue to receive support from the program with money management, budgeting, and saving for the future.

But most importantly, my children have benefitted greatly from this experience. After my Center Point Graduation in July 2011, I was granted full custody of both children, and my CPS case was closed permanently. My kids have a stable life today, they are both enrolled, and doing well in school, and I have become very active as a member of the PTA. In 2012 I was proud to be a member of the Marin Head Start Policy Council, where I represented my daughter's class and also served as Secretary.

Today I am an active member of the Center Point Alumni Association, where I meet weekly to share my story with others, and also plan and organize clean/sober events in the community. I listen and share my experiences with the group, in the hope that reaching out will provide help to addicts who still suffer.


Belinda currently works for Center Point at the Multi Services Center and is the President of the Alumni Association.

Darby Jaragosky, Graduate and Alumni

Darby

I have learned it is indeed darkest before the dawn… The dawn of my life appeared on Thanksgiving Day November, 2005. After running for two months with a warrant out for my arrest I had landed myself, for the last time, in the county jail. There I sat in a small concrete cell contemplating a four year prison sentence.

I was spiritually and morally bankrupt; my body was battered and bruised; I was adrift and broke; my life was empty and I knew this time I had nowhere to turn but within. The next week in court, I was offered a glimmer of mercy when the judge gave me a choice: prison or sobriety. With a few months of reluctant self-reflection I chose to take a chance on myself. As a result, in January 2006, I was paroled to a treatment facility and ended up on the front steps of the Center Point Women's program.

That cold night in January I began my new life with nothing more than the clothes I was arrested in, unfortunately now a size too small; a jail issued bible and a handful of twelve step books. The women greeted me with a warm coat, a pair of shoes, a change of clothes and most importantly caring smiles and open arms. By this gracious welcoming I had gained more hope than I ever had before and I felt like I could really belong somewhere. In the rooms of the program with those women and their beautiful children I embarked on an amazing journey that I am still on today.

Today I have six and a half years clean and sober and filled with the challenges of life. I have grown through a myriad of changes and all the comfortable and uncomfortable feelings they bring. Professionally, I have been lucky enough to work for Center Point for the last five years where I have learned a great deal about business and the art of caring for myself and others. They have morally supported me through a Bachelor's Degree and now I am one year away from completing a Master's Degree in Public Administration.

Personally, I am in a wonderful relationship, I have an adorable cat and best of all the respect and love of my family and irreplaceable, enduring friendships. These are the treasures of my life and for this reason I hold an indelible love for my Center Point family that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.


Taffy Lavie, Graduate and Alumni

Darby

After years of living my life doing drugs, committing crimes, living beyond my means, being homeless and isolating myself from my family, I finally landed myself in Center Point to do my parole after 3 years in prison. I had no idea what an incredible journey I was in for when I showed up kicking and screaming at Center Point on October 4, 2007. I didn't have a clue where to start in the process of changing myself! With the help of Dr. Taylor, my counselor, my peers, and the Alumni who came before me, my life is completely different today.

Today I work for Center Point in the Multi Services Center. I spend time with my family every week. I get together on weekends with my Alumni peers and go for hikes and other fun things. I'm president of the Center Point Alumni Association. I have my own apartment and I pay my bills on time. I'm developing new interests and hobbies that I'm loving! I go back into the women and children's facility often to spend time with the women in treatment and let them know that if they just hang in there, it will be the most rewarding thing they've ever done!

I thought that I would go through treatment and that would be the end of my experience at Center Point. I would never have dreamed that after treatment, I would get to go to transitional housing and learn how to budget my money and get back on my feet. I also have a job that I love and am proud of because Dr. Taylor believes in her graduates, and helps us believe in ourselves! And as if that wasn't enough…through the Alumni group, I have an amazing group of lifelong friends and a smile on my face…a real one.


Emily Wimmer, Graduate and Alumni

Emily

Center Point has changed my life in so many ways that I didn't even realize were possible. Prior to my time spent at the in-patient program for women and children, my life was beyond unmanageable, it was dangerous. I knew that I wanted to be a good mother to my son, and a successful woman, but I just didn't know how to get out from under the power of my addiction. When Child Protective Services and Drug Court entered my life simultaneously it was a blessing in disguise. I was referred to Center Point, to begin a new life. While in the program, I learned so much about myself, my addiction, and how to plan my future. Parenting, trauma core, relapse prevention, vocational training and art therapy were some of the most powerful groups that I experienced during my inpatient program, although every group was of great help to my recovery process.

I completed my inpatient program successfully and moved on to transitional housing with my son. I had obtained a full-time job and was beginning to experience life as a sober woman who was capable of anything. I feel that I learned the most during my time in transitional housing. I don't think that I would have gotten to where I am today without the experiences I had while living at transitional housing. The benefits for me were: being able to save money in order to move into my own home, experience life with other single women and their children; all who were living life sober, and the biggest benefit to me was the after care group that I attended regularly and the support I received from my peers.

Today I know that I have become that self-sufficient woman that I aspired to be while I was in treatment. I have a beautiful apartment, a job that I am passionate about and two healthy and phenomenal children that are my whole world. Also, I will be completing my degree soon as a paralegal. I continue to attend Center Point's Alumni group and I am an active participant of the fellowship as well. I continue to set and achieve life goals for myself that at one point I never thought were possible. I am so grateful for the life-long gift that Center Point has given to me. Words would never be enough to express how wonderful I feel with what I have learned from Center Point. My family, my children and I owe so much to Center Point for being the guardian angel that I so desperately needed.


Aaron Smith, Graduate and Alumni

Aaron

On June 27th 2007, I entered Center Point a broken young man with a desperate hope of changing my life. I honestly felt very little hope for myself due to the many failed attempts I had suffered before; however, I knew things had to change or else I would soon be dead or in prison for a long time. I began to work hard, leaving many of my issues out on the floor hoping to rid my emotional closet of all its skeletons. I held onto my seat for dear life all day every day, because I had a constant battle between my heart and mind. My mind screamed at me telling me I was no good and that I might as well leave because I only know how to quit and get high, because that's what I had been doing my whole life. My heart told me that I was good enough and that with a little bit of hard work and dedication I could become the amazing sober man I always dreamed of.

For the first time in my life I chose to close my ears to my mind and direct my attention to what my heart was saying. I stayed, when it came time for me to confront my darkest and most painful demon, I stayed. When my character defects came out and I was punished or corrected, I stayed. As I finally left treatment I could hear as people shook their heads and said that I didn't stand a chance. I took that and I ran with it, I took what Center Point taught me about integrity, and perseverance and working hard to get what I want. I dove into the world head first, going to a ton of meetings, getting a sponsor, applying the structure of Center Point in my new, free life. I flourished. It was by no means easy as I fought my demons daily, but I flourished.

Today I am a son, brother, good friend, boyfriend, sponsee, sponsor and, against all expectations, a Center Point Alumni. I try to live my life by the solid concepts and principles I was taught by Center Point. Like my sobriety I have worked extremely hard at furthering my education and career by entering into College of Marin. I have surprised even myself by getting a 3.85 GPA in three semesters and a 4.00 last semester. I have aspirations of attending UC Berkeley, and much to my surprise, it is well within my reach. I am who I am today because of hard work and dedication, and because Center Point believed in me before I could believe in myself.


Michael McLain, Graduate and Alumni

Michael

When I was growing up I was a good kid. I read comic books, I was an artist, I sang in the church choir and went to church on Sundays. I was an average student who always smiled and kept a good attitude. I went to a good high school and had a small circle of friends. On the outside looking in, my life was normal. My father was an alcoholic and an addict, for as long as I can remember. He was physically abusive to my mother since before I was born, but only once laid hands on me while drunk. He left the home early and my mother raised me all by herself.

I swore I would never touch drugs or become an alcoholic. My goal was to become a social worker and help kids that were runaways. I had some idea why kids ran away from home. To get away from the dysfunction of a house plagued with the insanity caused by drugs and alcohol. What I could not understand was why anyone would choose drugs or alcohol over their family. This was a baffling mystery to me. I was twenty five when I fell into my addiction of methamphetamine, and I spent thirteen years there. I became a thief, a liar, homeless and everything I swore I would never become. One day I had enough and I ask for help, in the form of a prayer. I was an addict and I didn't know how to stop.

My friend gave me the number to Center Point, and said "if you really want to get your life back, you should call". I did call and I started my journey October 10, 2007 at Center Point, Inc. I completed in 2008, and graduated in 2009. Center Point, Inc. came into my life just when I needed it. I learned many lessons throughout my life so far. I believe everything happens for a reason. Since my graduation from Center Point, Inc., I have become an Alumni of Center Point, Inc., I have gone to school to educate myself in the studies of Drug and Alcohol treatment. I have taken the state's certification test and passed. I am now a Registered Addiction Specialist. I believe all the experiences that I have can best be put to use helping others that may be struggling. Center Point, Inc. saved my life and I am truly grateful.


Travis E. Carter, Graduate and Alumni

Travis

I never felt a part of. I could isolate and feel alone in a group of people. I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol at the age of twelve. Instantly things changed. Alcohol and drugs broke down the barriers I had built around my feelings of fear, anger and insecurities. I was who I thought you wanted me to be. When I hung out with rockers I was a rocker, when I hung out with gangsters I was a gangster, when I hung out with people who drank, I drank.

Eventually I was smoking speed and in the first month, I was homeless, jobless and arrested. That started a five year journey in which I crossed almost every boundary there was to cross, culminating in my arrest.

Saved of going to prison I was offered an opportunity to enter a Residential Treatment Program. I didn't want to get clean when I came to Center Point, but I was tired of the direction my life was headed. It didn't take me long to buy into the program, I saw it working for others and I pictured it working for me too. Center Point changed my life and the doors it has opened for me keep me grateful for the opportunity. It's been over two years since I masked my feelings with a drink or drug and I have Center Point to thank for that.


David Metzger, Graduate and Alumni

David

Pain killers prescribed for a back injury sent me into a 2 year downward spiral from which I thought there was no escape. It took me to places physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that I wouldn't wish on any one.

Center Point pulled me out of my seemingly hopeless state. They addressed my physical, mental and emotional problems and gave me a firm foundation on which to build my recovery. Center point continues to play an important role in my life and my recovery. I will be eternally grateful to the Center Point Program and staff for all they've done for me.


Robin Grimm, Graduate and Alumni

Robin

I've got my life back!!

I'm a proud Alumni of Center Point, also an employee. If I were to tell you everything Center point has done for me I could write a book and maybe will someday, but for now I will try to summarize it. I'm a 43 year old woman, who for many years used methamphetamine to help me feel inferior to abuse. I was raised in an abusive family and went on in my adult life to marry the same type of man as my abusive stepfather, went on to raise my son in the same environment I was raised in. (The cycle)

I discovered drugs when I was 13 years old, immediately that was my escape. Soon to be my excuse for being abused, because I had no self-worth at all, and was convinced that I needed someone to take care of me and control me as negative and scary as it was it would all be okay if I just stayed numb. It finally got to be so bad where I was fearing my life to where one day when he was gone. I took the kids and left got a restraining order, went to court. I had everything in order except one thing, I was a drug addict and knew it wouldn't stand up in court, but the drugs controlled my life, I couldn't quit, not for myself not event for my children. So in my mind I came up with the solution my kids would be better off with him and if I was out of the picture they'd be ok, because he abused me, not them!

So, I abandoned my children. Went on to lose my job, my car, the only thing I didn't lose was the urge to get high. I started being in and out of jail and the drugs for misdemeanor drug charges, to where going to jail was no big deal, except I'd get sober enough to feel that knot trying achy feeling in my stomach of missing my children. One day was enough and I knew of this place I could go from 16 years previous that would help me, that I know if I applied the tools, the concepts that they taught me. I could become a self-sufficient woman with my dignity, respect, I would be able to get a job with benefits, housing and the courage to do so, that place was Center Point. It seemed like a distant dream but that was a lot more than I had. I went through Center Point's six month program, applied and internalized the concepts that were incorporated into me. I worked through my emotions in group settings. I went through the vocational group and acquired and acquired a job where I later became manager. I was fortunate enough to go through both transitional housings, until I got my first very own place for the first time in my life! I went through aftercare, continuing care. Four years later I'm not only employed for them, to the place that so willingly gave me hope and strength to live life worth living, I'm also president of the Alumni Association.

Within building all these skills in my life and living with integrity, I was able to believe in myself enough to stand up against my abuser and get full custody of my son. Most importantly, realize that I was only the victim, because I allowed that in my life. Today I'm not a victim. I'm that self-sufficient, independent woman that I admired from afar.

I am living the dream, my dream!

Thank you Center Point with all of my heart! Forever grateful!

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