“In the degree that we remember and retell our stories and create new ones we become the authors, the authorities, of our own lives.”
Each of our families come to Family Promise with their own story. Each story is different, unique, beautiful and full of possibilities.
At Family Promise we do not just want to highlight the great successes of our families that graduate our program. We also want to walk you down their road. We want you to know how far our families have traveled to regain their independence. When you begin to know our families struggles, you begin to truly realize how beautiful their successes really are.
So join us. Grab a cup of coffee and read on, friends. Take a few moments and put yourself in someone else’s shoes…
Ben and Jamie’s Story
We came here from Missouri to start over but we had a really hard time getting on our feet. We got into the Family Promise program and everything changed for the better for us!
We had nothing when we came into the program. We had no money, no jobs, no car. So we both found employment, we opened a checking and a savings account.
Family Promise gave us a car. After we completed the program we moved into our own house. We are both still working and everything is going great. We don’t know where we would be without the help of this program!
-Jamie and Ben
I was born in Salem, OR and shortly after my family moved to Bozeman, MT where we lived until I was six. My dad joined the Army and we moved to Fort Riley, KS where he was stationed. I remember the struggle of military life. My dad was gone more often than he was home. My mom and I were on our own for the most part. When I was thirteen, my parents got a divorce and I lived with my dad for a year until he was deployed to Iraq. After his deployment, I moved back to Bozeman to live with my mom.
I had a very difficult time coping with my parents’ divorce. When I moved in with my mother, I discovered my mom was smoking pot. I first tried marijuana at age 14 with my mom and step-dad. It snowballed from there. I soon found myself trying other substances constantly trying to top my last high. That time period was a rollercoaster ride. I kept quitting, and then spiraling back to my drug use. I attended Bridger Alternative School and was able to graduate at age sixteen, and that is when I moved out of my mother’s house. I chose to leave the house because of all the disagreements between myself and my mom and step-dad.
I remember deciding that I wanted to be done with my self- destructive life style and went into the Army recruiting office with my dad. I was unable to join the Army because of my asthma. That news sent me right back to the world I was trying to get away from.
When I was 18, I was at the height of my drug use. I ended up in the hospital in June, only to discover that I had miscarried. The doctors told me I would not be able to have any children due to complications caused by the miscarriage. Upon leaving the hospital, I felt I had no reason to change my lifestyle. I felt there was no reason to take care of myself so I just continued down the familiar path of self-destruction, not even considering a chance for a miracle.
I left an abusive relationship with my boyfriend and soon found myself in a healthy, positive relationship. In October of that year, I discovered that the impossible was in fact possible: I was 14 weeks pregnant. I quit smoking, drinking, and drugs all cold turkey for my son. Shortly after I discovered I was pregnant, I went back to my abusive relationship. Upon reflection, I think I often found myself running from the good things in my life back to the bad. The bad was “comfortable”. Then I had an altercation with my abuser that resulted in him driving off while I was still partially in the car. I was essentially run over by him. The recovery from this traumatic event has been a long and difficult road, and I am continuing my healing process. Looking back at that event, I now know at that point in my life I was strong enough to say this is enough, and that was the end of the relationship.
I moved back in with my mom so I was away from my friends and the opportunities they provided to abuse any substances. However, living with my mother was still an intense struggle. I was a hormonal angry pregnant lady. My mom and I butted heads often. Sometimes I didn’t feel safe because my mom and step-dad were often in intense verbal arguments.
When I was 6 months pregnant I decided it was not healthy for me to be in my mother’s home while I was pregnant. I moved in with an amazingly supportive and caring couple. I was so grateful to have a safe comfortable home. I lived with them until my son Brady was four months old.
At that point I moved to Three Forks, MT where I lived with a cousin and a friend. After a short time in the house, it became clear that it was not going to be a good living situation. I eventually could not pay the rent on my own and found myself moving in with a family friend. After a few months there, I came to the realization that it was not working out in that home either, and that I needed to get on my feet and find a stable home for myself and Brady without having to depend on other people.
I called my Thrive counselor in a panic trying to figure out where to go and what to do. I was at my wits end, and scared, not knowing where to turn. I was referred to HAVEN, but since I was no longer in immediate danger of domestic violence I didn’t qualify. Then I was referred to Family Promise.
I set up an intake with Family Promise, and after meeting with Kacie, I discovered I was eligible for the program. I battled with my fear of change, but finally decided to give the program a try.
Within three days of joining the program I got a job at a day care. I started therapeutic counseling, and attending a parenting support group. I started saving my money, and learned many tactics to help me manage my budget. I also discovered the challenge of finding affordable housing in Bozeman. I had a hard time finding a place that accepts dogs. I have had my dog through many of my struggles and consider her a part of the family.
Family Promise has helped me learn that is OK to ask for help. They also helped me learn to be more patient and understand my son’s needs. Being in the program has helped me to create a bond with my son that I did not have before, because I was given an opportunity to sit down and figure out what was important to me. The case manager, Kacie, urged me to spend quality time with my child.
The program is not for everyone. You really have to be goal-oriented and family-oriented. If your kids are important to you, you have to be willing to follow the rules of the program.
When I came into the program you guys were like strangers, now as I am leaving the program, you all are like family. Family like I have never really had, you encourage us, and let us know that it is ok to have strong feelings.
Kacie, Bridget and Gloria can relate and understand that life happens. Everyone that is here has had a rocky path, and that is why they are here because it hasn’t been easy and you guys understand that and don’t pass judgment for it. We didn’t have a free ride along the way. You all encouraged me to stay in the program and not run from the fears and challenges. I love the program, I love what it stands for, but I am ready to be on my own. I know I can come back and visit, and volunteer. I have grown to love many of the volunteers that I have met along the way. Before this program, I had the worst view of churches, now I have been going to church for two months and I love it. This program helped me see how many amazing people participate as a part of a church, and it has changed my view of the people in church. I am so glad that I stayed in the program.
Wow, what a total loser I have become. Yes, that is exactly what I thought as stared out my office window. Yes, I am employed. I have an education. Yet, somehow I lost my house. How am I going to go home and tell my wife, and even worse, tell my two boys. They are never going to talk to me or even look at me again. That’s exactly how I felt.
It was then that I got another phone call that truly changed my life. On the other line was the property manager of the house I was losing. “Great,” I thought…just who I want to hear from. Maybe they wanted the knife they left in my back.
It turns out that she wanted me to know about a program called Family Promise. She said they might be able to help. “Whatever,” I thought. Simply because I did not feel like working at the moment, I Googled this “Family Promise” place. I read the website and I decided to call to see if they would help a loser like me.
When I called, I spoke to a lady named Gloria. After she asked me a few questions, she told me to stop by the Day Center to chat. I decided to head down to the Day Center to talk to Gloria (who seemed way too eager to help such a loser like me). After spending a few minutes with Gloria at the Family Promise Day Center, I left smiling (it had been a while since I had smiled last, so it hurt a little). Gloria had laid out the workings of this program and what it could provide. I was still looking for the “catch.” I had just spent the last few months dealing with some of the most unhappy, money-hungry individuals I had ever met. In just an hour this lady wanted to help me and my family. There was a faint light at the end of the tunnel.
After telling my wife and children the news and the new “plan,” we entered the Family Promise program.
This is where Family Promise changed not only my life but my entire family’s as well. I have never been happier. No, it was not easy at times. However, I have met people that truly are good (not people who just smile and act happy) but through and through good to the core people.
I do not think I could possibly recount everything that Gloria, Kacie and Bridget at Family Promise did for us along with the countless and tireless volunteers for this program. They provided our family a unrelenting positive support that truly made me feel like a useful person and not the “loser” that I thought I was at the time. My family was treated like royalty and we have all made friends that we will treasure always.
This was just supposed to be a few quotes on how I thought Family Promise affected my life. But when I talk about Family Promise, a few quotes or specific moments do not do it justice. I cannot contain the joy and spirit the program gave me and continues to instill in me.
I tear up as I write this and every time I talk about the program and the volunteers…the memories that coming flashing back. To try to sum up how I feel about the program, I have to say that I am grateful everyday that I became homeless, because if I had not, I might never have been introduced to the Family Promise program and to the family that my family has been invited into. Although, I have been told that becoming a volunteer is easier than becoming homeless to become a part of the program! So you might want to try that route!
To Kacie, Gloria, Bridget and every volunteer, we love and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
-Jason and family
I was born and raised on a farm on the Rez in Montana. Drugs, alcohol and violence were a part of my everyday life growing up. I did however graduate and get my H.S. diploma, which was huge considering that we lost a lot of our class by death or pregnancy.
I moved away at the age of 17. I went to the East Coast where I met the father of my children. My daughter was born in N.J., and then we moved to Milwaukie where my son was born. I was with this very abusive man for 12 years before I left him. The kids and I moved back to Montana. By this time my drinking was completely out of control. I ended up with 2 DUI’s, huge fines, plenty of time in jail, probation. I went to an outpatient treatment program and the kids and I were doing great. I had a good job, nice apartment. Then I met another man who took all I had worked so very hard for and we found ourselves flat on our faces AGAIN!
Of all we had been through I somehow always found a way to pick myself up and keep going – except this time. It just seemed like I was getting kicked harder than ever while I was down. I was crushed! Having no one to turn to and nowhere to go, I called HAVEN who was full and referred me to HRDC and a program I had never heard of before, “Family Promise”.
It took me a few days of couch surfing, and friends sneaking us in to sleep on their floor, and even in my truck with two kids. I was truly at rock bottom! So I had to swallow my pride, put my big girl panties on and make that phone call. Kacie answered and we set an appointment up. I was so nervous and almost didn’t go. We had never been in a shelter before, and the picture that I had in my head was quite disturbing. For some reason I thought we’d be sleeping on a dirty floor with creepy crawlers and creepy people like carnival men and Wal-Mart bums. So then my thoughts were back and forth, maybe my kids wouldn’t be safe in a shelter, maybe we were safer in the truck. Where I get these ideas from baffle even myself.
I finally decided I would go to the appointment with Kacie, what do I have to lose right? Talking to her was such a relief! It was the complete opposite of what I thought. She actually listened to me and did not judge me. When I left her office, I was actually almost, kind of excited to be in the shelter. Who’d a thunk it?
The first night we got there, we were so excited about having a bed (cot) to sleep in, a shower and snacks! The kids were nice and clean, with happy tummies and all snuggled in their beds, so sweet and at peace, FINALLY after so much chaos! Tears just started streaming, what a huge burden off my shoulders to know that we were safe, and going to be OK.
How did I let my life get so out of control? All of this hell on earth has turned out to be the most amazing blessing in a very ugly disguise! This seems to be how all my blessings come, in disguise, and I have learned to thank God for them because He always gives me strength and puts the perfect people in my path.
While being in the program they helped us in every way from gas to clothes. An ear to listen or a hug for no reason. Support in every way, emotional, financial. We met a lot of new people, for once in our lives we eliminated all negative and were suddenly surrounded by positive all around! Each and every volunteer touched our hearts in some way. They all were so generous and accommodating, it was almost hard for me to be taken care of the way I was being taken care of. I am not used to that, and I felt like I should be doing something for them. I am very much a giver and not a taker, so this was definitely a positive learning experience for myself and my kids.
I am also pretty sure we have never eaten so well in our lives! We have eaten from the East coast to the West, and I’m going to have to say that Bozeman, Montana has got some good cooks! Hot, homemade, fresh, mmm…mmm every night. WOW! I did however still manage to fit into my pants when we left so that’s always a positive thing too.
After we entered the program I called my cousin (my only relative close by) who had been asking me to come to church with her for years. I asked her if we could go to church with her. (She asked if I was feeling OK.) Totally caught her off guard, long story short, I gave my heart to God. She had this book on the coffee table that caught my eye. She let me take it to read. So at the end of each day, with the kids sleeping, I snuggled in and read. What a great book! It’s called The Seven Secrets by John Hagee. In that book he talked about prayer, and when you pray you need to pray for something so big, so mighty, something so impossible that it knocks Him right off his throne! So I did. I poured out my heart. I cried, “God, thank you for bringing me here, but I can’t keep living this way. In my Bible it says, ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ John Hagee wrote in his book to knock You off your throne, so here it goes: I am asking You for a big
yellow house with a wraparound deck, a barn filled with horses and a pond for the kids to swim in with a rope swing. I believe You heard my prayer in Jesus name. Amen”
When I went into Kacie’s office, I told her what I read and what I prayed for. I’m pretty sure she thought, ’Oh no, Cami is off her rocker.’ I don’t remember how long it was after that, I think about a week later, Kacie told me that someone donated a 3 bedroom, 2 full bath trailer house! God heard my prayer!!! It’s even better than what I asked for! I don’t have a wrap around deck, or a barn, or horses or a pond or a rope swing, but it does have a shed in the back made of old barn wood painted barn red with horseshoes hanging the right way in it! We have a little creek running through our yard. And instead of horses we have ducks that live behind the shed in front of the creek. The Lord knew I didn’t have the money to take care of the horses. The ducks, however, are low maintenance – actually, they are no maintenance. Family Promise and churches and volunteers in this great community helped us make our
House a HOME SWEET HOME!
I am so very truly blessed in every way. I don’t know if you believe in angels, but there are some here on earth! I have met some and their names are Kacie, Gloria and Bridget. There are more here in Bozeman too, lots of them. You are and always will be very dear to my heart. I love you and thank you for all that you are and everything that you do, not only for me and my family, but the society as a whole. Family Promise is a blessing and continues to touch the hearts and lives of many. I cannot thank you enough for showing me love, inspiring me, and giving me wings to fly! I went from homeless to being a homeowner! I am forever grateful.
– Cami, Cabin and Wilder