Stacy Thompson, STEP Graduate 2018

This Is My Story by Stacy Thompson

My family grew up robbing Peter to pay Paul.  That’s just the way things were.  I was pregnant and married by the age of 16, the marriage only lasted for 5 years. After 3 miscarriages and a divorce, I felt as though my life was in shambles.  I was using drugs and alcohol to cope, which led to poor life choices such as spending my time with abusive men.  My life was going nowhere fast.  I felt like no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get on my feet.

I made the decision to quit the drinking and the drugs with the help of God.  This was my first step in the right direction, but I was still involved in an abusive relationship that I couldn’t seem to break free from.  After 14 years, I was finally ready to be free. I remember thinking to myself, “it is finally my time.”  Boy, was I wrong.

Soon, I became sick and couldn’t work.  My thoughts then shifted to dark places. How was I going to make it? I lost everything; my home, all of my belongings, my entire life was gone.  I soon learned that I had to have two major surgeries that involved a pacemaker and open heart surgery, I couldn’t stop asking God, “why me?”. My life was still not on track, and things felt more hopeless than ever.  How would I pay for any of this? Finally, in 2014, I was able to get the help that I needed to cover the first surgery and pacemaker.  I ended up moving back home with my parents.  Soon after the pacemaker was installed, it was time for my open heart surgery.  Following the surgery, I was unable to get any assistance whatsoever, with the exception of food stamps (which was the only way to contribute to my parents who were taking care of me).  Without disability, I found myself simply praying to be able to get back to work and God answered my prayers.  I went back to work 8 months after my open heart surgery, however, the work was outdoors and very physically hard on my body.  It was killing me.

Then I met Jane.  She was such an incredible help to me.  She told me about the UP Center in Indian River County and told me about the Success Training for Employment Program.  “You need this, Stacy,” she would tell me.  At first, I wasn’t very receptive.  After Jane urged me on 3 occasions to give it a try, I finally decided that I didn’t have anything else going for me, so why not give it a try? What could it hurt?

I came for my first day of STEP, and it was the most amazing class. I learned now just how to be myself, but how to accept myself.  My self-esteem and confidence were on the rise.  I learned the right way to compose a resume, how to stand up in front of a crowd to speak publicly, and to feel comfortable in my own skin. I learned how to sell my strengths in an interview and how to own my weaknesses.  The teachers are wonderful.  They will work with you during and after the classes.  I always wonder what would have happened had I known about this earlier.  I have never felt so happy and confident in my future. Upon graduation, I had a new goal.  I had decided to go back to school so that I can help people.  I am going back for my degree in Counseling. While working towards my degree, I am also working full time and finally able to stand on my own two feet proudly. I could not be more excited and grateful for my new path in life, thanks to the STEP program.

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