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Alexis finds strength, motivation to thrive

April 22, 2015


Alexis didn’t have anywhere else to turn when she called her former transitional living specialist Michael Williams.

A year before, she’d discharged from the Youth Villages transitional living program, now called YVLifeSet, and was doing well in high school. She contacted Michael for help getting out of an abusive relationship. She had a small daughter as well.

“It was scary,” Alexis said. “I had nowhere to go.”

Alexis didn’t have a home, had little support, and was fighting to keep custody of her daughter. Michael acted quickly to get Alexis back into YVLifeSet.

“Because of the nature of her situation with the domestic violence, I wanted to help as quickly as possible,” Michael said. “There was a lot going on and she needed help getting through it.”

During that time, Alexis thought she was going to lose everything. Through help from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and Michael, Alexis began to slowly piece her life together. First, she found a place to live. She wasn’t in school, but she had a job. Through help from Legal Aid of East Tennessee and legal assistance from DCS, Alexis was able to gain custody of her daughter.

alexisIt wasn’t without a fight.

“I had so much going on, it was kind of like, ‘what else can happen?'” Alexis said. “It was one thing after another, but I focused on keeping my daughter.”

Also at this time, Alexis was finding her own voice. While in the abusive relationship, she described herself as brainwashed in a way, to stay at home, drop out of school… but she wanted something different. Through the struggles of getting out of the relationship, finding a home and fighting for custody, she began to find an inner strength to build a life. It wasn’t easy, as many of the meetings between Michael and Alexis were many hours long and sometimes two or three times a week.

“She was very motivated to make things happen,” Michael said. “But there for a time it was slow going getting through the legal process.”

Alexis continued to work part time and learned about budgeting and saving. Michael assisted her with an extension of foster care services, and she began pursuing her GED. They found community support through church and local shelters.

“When the reality and urgency of the situation set in, I had to learn quickly,” she said. “I learned how to listen and understand new things and ask good questions because there was so much at stake.”

Now Alexis can move forward. Instead of being moment-to-moment, she can plan for a future. She doesn’t have to worry about where she’s going to sleep. She can enjoy being a mother.

“Michael helped me a lot,” she said. “Without his help, I’d probably be homeless and without my daughter.”

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