“My Family Peer Support Advocate made me feel understood, like they knew where I was coming from.”
– Lael Clarke
After struggling with drug abuse and separation from her young child, Lael Clarke was introduced to Vibrant’s Family and Youth Peer Support Services in the South Bronx. As a new mom, Lael found the one-on-one support she needed to respond to the unique challenges in her life.
I experimented with drugs from a young age, but everything escalated after my Mom died when I was 21. I started using hard drugs and drinking a lot, rather than admit that I was depressed. I got clean before I became pregnant with my son, and I stayed clean for eight months until I fell off the wagon. Over a one week period, I binged on crack cocaine, which sent me into premature labor. My baby was born positive for crack cocaine and was admitted to the NICU for potential detox treatment. NYC’s Administration for Child Services separated my child from me and I was sent to rehab.
I’ve worked one on one with two Family Peer Support Advocates, Mr. Renee and Ms. Diaz, at Vibrant’s Family and Youth Peer Support Services (FYPSS). No one judged me. They were very understanding and made it easy for me to share my story. They’re like family to me now. This isn’t easy to do either; it’s hard for me to trust people in a situation like mine.
Mr. Renee and Ms. Diaz encouraged me to address struggles I’ve had addressing my temper and offered me opportunities to meet other moms with similar lived experiences as mine. I tend to have outbursts when I strongly believe in something. But since enrolling in FYPSS’ anger management courses, I realize now that not everything is an argument. I look at people now and understand that they’re trying to help me. This gave me the confidence I needed to participate in an FYPSS’ parenting group. Being around other moms who have been separated from their children, made me feel less alone. Their wisdom and shared vulnerability showed me the power of listening to each others’ stories.
My experience at the Vibrant Bronx FYPSS has taught me the value of watching and listening, and especially sharing. Today, I’m grateful to be reunited with my son and continuing on this path of personal growth.