LOWELL — It wasn’t way back when Judath Valenzuela’s future appeared murky.
The 37-year-old Lowell resident, a mom of two, battled with an habit to opioid-based drugs, whereas a relationship with a person who she felt dependent upon was coming to an finish.
Valenzuela felt her life was within the midst of collapse. With that perception got here a sense that she was unfit to look after her youngsters, thus deciding handy momentary custody to her mom.
Rock-bottom got here in 2013, when Valenzuela stated her drug use contributed to poor selections and a run-in with the regulation. The Lowell resident was arrested for assault and battery — a cost that was bumped as much as the extra dire crime of assault and battery with intent to homicide.
Valenzuela served 5 months behind bars, resulting in her mom receiving guardianship of her youngsters. She was launched from jail and onto probation, earlier than going to a residential house for a time period. The private struggles continued when she turned homeless.
But the climb upward was subsequent. Valenzuela moved in with her mom and youngsters, and went again to work. She additionally reached three years of sobriety, “Thank God,” Valenzuela stated.
As the standard of life improved, her previous errors nonetheless felt a step behind, and with that sensation got here the worry that her previous blunders would outline the remainder of her life.
“I felt stuck,” Valenzuela stated. “I assumed I used to be by no means going to be good once more.
I by no means thought I used to be going to regain that belief and that love from my youngsters that that they had for me earlier than I did what I did.”
Valenzuela’s probation officer steered she take part within the Lowell Motherhood Program, set to be provided to struggling members of the group for the primary time. Motivated by the thought of as soon as once more having custody of her now 17-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, Valenzuela signed up.
The Lowell Motherhood Program is one among 9 Mothers’ and Women’s Programs throughout the state that provide 10- to 13-week periods. The Lowell initiative is exclusive in that the co-facilitators — all probation officers — symbolize 4 divisions of the five-division courtroom system. The divisions embrace Probate and Family, District, Juvenile, and Superior courts.
The Lowell Motherhood Program, the brainchild of Probation Officer Kathleen Michaud, is run by a group of probation officers that embrace Kimberly Bowden, of Middlesex Superior Court; Jennifer Kirchner, of Lowell District Court; and Kristin Pepin, of Middlesex Juvenile Court.
Valenzuela and 7 different moms met inside the program as soon as every week for an hour and a half for a complete of 12 weeks.
They participated in interactive lectures that targeted on subjects that included substance abuse, constructive parenting, wholesome relationships, authorized issues, women’s health and stress administration, in line with Pepin. Each week a visitor speaker was introduced in to deal with the group, together with judges and attorneys, to a father who dealt with parenting difficulties of his personal.
“Each of the 12 weeks was a different focus and a different community resource that these women now have access to,” Pepin stated.
When Valenzuela first turned concerned in this system, she had doubt about opening up.
“However, the group grew to care about each other and we learned to listen to each other and give each other advice,” she stated. “And it wasn’t only the woman in the program but also the facilitators — they involved themselves very much. They always listened and gave us good advice.”
In the top, “These women really blossomed,” Pepin stated.
On June 30, a commencement ceremony was held for the eight women, marking their profitable completion from this system that additionally produced hope for a brighter future.
“To see how the women responded, it was heartwarming,” Pepin stated. “They opened up and we opened up. I saw a lot of good progress.”
Currently, Valenzuela’s life is simply enhancing, she stated. Today she believes something is feasible and that is due to what she was uncovered to within the Lowell Motherhood Program.
Valenzuela’s mom nonetheless has custody of her youngsters, however she is at present engaged on creating a joint custody settlement. Her two youngsters have been current finally month’s commencement ceremony.
“This program has helped make me realize that the past doesn’t define me,” Valenzuela stated. “It made me realize that what defines me is who I am now and what I do next.”
A new group of women shall be introduced in to participate within the newest Lowell Motherhood Program, which is subsequent scheduled to start Sept. 12, in accordance with Pepin.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis