What is it like to be part of positive change?

Please make more stories like Charmaine’s possible by donating, perhaps in honor or memory of a loved one.Click here to donate or mail checks to A Safe Haven Foundation, c/o Neli Vazquez-Rowland, 2750 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60608.

Charmaine Bowman, from Skokie, IL, was depressed when her mother passed away from cancer when Charmaine was just 23. She self-medicated with drugs, which, she says wryly, “did not make my situation any better.” The resulting addiction led to incarceration and a rock bottom when she gave birth in prison to her daughter, Aniya. When released in 2009, Charmaine resolved to get her life together and reunite with her two oldest children. Luckily, she found A Safe Haven.

After receiving treatment, Charmaine took advantage of all A Safe Haven had to offer. She began with morning meditations and attended 12-step meetings and pre-employment classes. She enrolled in our Landscaping & Snow Removal Professional Institute, which allowed her to transition to her own apartment. “I went from a kid that could barely clean my room to keeping the whole apartment clean.”

Charmaine is graduating from the Landscaping Professional Institute with marketable skills and plans to enroll in school. Having demonstrated stable employment and housing, she is regaining custody of her sons Anthony, who earns A’s and B’s, and Alex, named “Most Improved” in kindergarten. Charmaine rises before dawn to take Aniya to daycare and get to work; in the evening she attends financial literacy classes and the daycare’s parent committee meetings. She still attends 12-step meetings and does morning meditations so she can get “that extra little push of something positive.”

“I have two extra years of job training experience where I’ve shown that I can be reliable. It gives you happiness. You’re up at 4 o’clock going to do something positive. When I’m taking my kids to school in the morning, I can point to the flowers and say, ‘I did that.’ It gives you an accomplishment. It builds your self-esteem. It makes you feel good.”

Please make more stories like Charmaine’s possible by donating, perhaps in honor or memory of a loved one, by clicking here or by mailing checks to:

A Safe Haven Foundation
c/o Mike Kirk
2750 West Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608