My name is Michelle I am 47 years old and live in Richmond Va. At a very early age I learned how to make people laugh basically as a defense move. I grew about in family where I had to make people laugh because there was a lot of anger.

I got married at 21 my husband was 37. I finally found a family that was big loving and happy. I was living in NY when I met my husband we have 3 beautiful kids.

When I was 34, I wanted to experience life and my husband was an alcoholic with a bad temper so I decided to leave and took my 3 children with me. I was a stay at home mom at, a member of the PTA Board, a tennis coach and a Sunday school teacher.

I met a man who became my boyfriend we moved in together. Life was great I was doing comedy full time and had gotten a job selling janitorial supplies. Everyone was adjusting well to the divorce.

But on Halloween 2004 when I was 36, Bobby the boyfriend of 2 years came home and asked me if I wanted to try something so I said sure! He pulled out a needle and I was horrified but didn’t want to upset him so I let him inject me. This was the first time I had done or tried anything else besides wine. I instantly felt warmth all over and felt happy. Well that was the beginning of a very quick end. Within 3 weeks, I was addicted. I had to keep doing it or I would be sick. I started smoking crack and methadone too. Bobby had me going downtown to score dope while my children were asleep. I went from 135 pounds to 85 pounds.  By the 3 month mark, I decided to call my mom because I needed help! I had lost everything! My job, my house and my health because I soon found out that I had Hepatitis C from Bobby and his needles!

I left Bobby and moved back in with ex-husband. I also entered a 30 day rehab facility. Two days before I got out, my ex-husband said “either you come back to me or I will go to court and get custody of kids!” I knew I could not go back to him and I didn’t think the courts would give him custody. I mean I had taken care of my 3 children their whole life!

Well they DID give him custody because I had just gotten out of rehab. I was given supervised visits once a week. This nearly killed me! The pain of not being with my children was horrible! All three of them would cry at the end of our visits. Charlie was 12, Heather was 9 and Caroline was 6.

I got a job but the pain of not having my kids made me want to block it out so I went back to heroin. They found me in the bathtub with a needle in my arm. I was taken to hospital and because I told them I wanted to die, they sent me to a psychiatric hospital. I literally had no where to go!

Everyone was done helping me. The last night before I was to leave, a lady had given me her Bible. I had to go to the bathroom so I picked it up took it with me opened it up and there was a piece of paper that said free program upstate NY 6 month program. To this day I still get chills from just thinking about that moment BUT I knew this was my answer!

My dad bought me a one way ticket to NY

When I got there I didn’t know anything about Jesus or God. Nothing but the rosary prayer and I was a Sunday school teacher.

This program literally saved my life and gave me my purpose for living. I stayed a year graduated and still the courts would not let me have my kids.

I took a job as intern at a similar program 30 minutes from where my kids lived and soon became the director. At 18 months I was finally allowed to see my children in a supervised office that cost me my whole paycheck for1 hour a week I did that for 2 months and the therapist told the judge I was fit for unsupervised. I started the long travel home every weekend I would get a hotel and stay fri sat every weekend then drive back to work. I did this for 6 months finally I knew I was okay going back home and getting my own apt.

I got a job at Bed Bath and Beyond, started picking my kids up from school, helping them with homework, feeding them before dropping them off at dads.

Their dad was never home. The house was a mess and they wanted their mom. Over time the lawyer for the kids was finally on my side and we went to court! I will never forget the day we walked into court and the judge looked at me he said full custody to the mom! I NEVER thought I would hear those words ever again!

I have NEVER turned back! 10 years later the kid say they will never leave! I have the best job in the world I am very active with all 3 kids my oldest is 24 and youngest 16.

I know that what God did for me he will do for anyone BUT it doesn’t happen overnight I had to put a lot of work in and it took a long time of showing that I had changed before my doors started opening!

It took awhile for my parents to believe that this was real but today we are closer then ever and they are so supportive!

I still know the day I opened that bible that piece of paper with the name of The Walter HOVING Home was meant for me!