With parents who suffered from addiction and her own trauma from childhood sexual abuse, it was no surprise that Tricia Moore spent 10 years battling addiction. When her daughter, Gracie, was born, Moore was still able to care for her, with her mother’s help.
“She enabled me to do whatever I wanted; then one day she told me, ‘You gotta go,’” said Moore, who went to live with a friend, Joe, leaving Gracie in her mother’s care. “When I lost all that mom responsibility, my addiction spiraled. We used until I found out I was pregnant again. I didn’t want to use, because I knew I was hurting my unborn child. But I didn’t know how not to.”
When her son, Jaxon, was born healthy, Moore was allowed to take him home from the hospital, but just 12 days later, the Department of Social Services took him, placing him with family members. As Joe was arrested, she told him, “I’m going to get clean, and I’m going to get our son back.”
Moore called her DSS caseworker, admitting she had a problem. She had heard about Serenity Place, a residential treatment center for pregnant women and mothers with children up to age 6. She put her name on the waiting list and checked into the Phoenix Center of Greenville to detox. She had no idea where she would go next, but held on to the possibility that she would be able to keep her baby with her during recovery.
Aileen Gallagher, director of community engagement for the Family Effect, the nonprofit that provides funding and volunteers for the Phoenix Center, said Serenity Place and Serenity Village, which includes transitional housing and other facilities, is one of very few recovery programs in the state that keeps mothers and children together, providing tailored services for both.
“The children have their developmental needs met and avoid foster care, and the moms may be more likely to stay in treatment if they keep their children with them,” Gallagher said.
This turned out to be true for Moore.
“The day I walked in the door and the caseworker was there with my baby, it felt like a miracle,” Moore said. “At Serenity Village, you learn healthy, nurturing, parenting skills hands-on with your own child and others living there. The last three months I had my daughter living with me in transitional housing, learning to be a mom to both my children.”
The Family Effect sponsors volunteers who provide meals, activities and child care so mothers can attend Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that are vital to their recovery. The organization accepts donations of car seats, diapers and other necessities, or funds to purchase them. In addition to its addiction programs, the Phoenix Center sends prevention specialists into schools to educate young people on the harms of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.
Recognizing the value of this work, the Community Foundation of Greenville and its fund holders have provided grants to the Family Effect over the years, supporting projects like on-site interim housing and a therapeutic children’s building, both fully funded by donors, Gallagher said.
At Serenity Village, Moore discovered a passion for helping others in recovery. She earned her GED and got a job. Four years later, she was offered a position at Serenity Place in residential client care, and she now serves as lead peer support specialist. She and Joe, who had completed a treatment program of his own, were married last year.
“Life is beautiful,” she said. “I can honestly say I’m living the life now I always dreamed and prayed about, but didn’t think I could have because of my background.”
For more information, visit www.familyeffect.org.