If you frequent The Roastery next to our Men's Center, chances are, you have been served coffee by Summer. Or, if you have been following this blog, you may have read this story about Summer from May 2021 (And if you haven't read that post yet, take 1 minute to do so and then come back here!)
In February 2022, Summer graduated from the program at Toby's Place, so I wanted to sit down with her and hear a bit more about her story and where she is going next.
As a child, Summer didn't have a stable support system. She lacked role models to learn how to live and thrive. "I wasn't raised. I just grew up," Summer admits. This lack of support played a huge role in leading Summer down the path she took of addiction and an unhealthy relationship. When she was at her lowest point, by the grace of God, she let go of the need to do it all herself.
The need to be big and tough.
The need to be independent.
When she let go, she found safety.
She found support.
She found hope.
At Toby's Place, she was surrounded by women of all ages who loved her, walked with her, taught her how to live and how to raise her daughter, Cindy. Suddenly, the role models that had always been missing from Summer's life were there to guide her. Cindy now has many "aunties" at Toby's Place, who are constantly loving on her.
"I know she is loved, taken care of, and safe. I am so proud to be able to give her what I never had.”
Toby's Place was just one of the places Summer found the love and support she and her daughter Cindy so desperately needed. Summer found community at her church and specifically through an addiction recovery group at the church.
Summer also recently received a certificate allowing her to become a Veterinarian's Assistant. She decided she wanted to work with animals back in high school when her best friend’s dog got hit by a car and Summer successfully reset his leg. “It made me feel special and important to be able to save an animal like that.” With a career path ahead of her, Summer feels equipped and empowered to become more and more independent.
Now that she has graduated from Toby's Place, Summer continues to work at The Roastery, saving up to buy a car and move into an apartment with her now 1-year old daughter.
Throughout my conversation with Summer, it became clear that Summer is deeply passionate about using her story to bring awareness to the dangers of drugs and abusive relationships, particularly to young girls.
“Even if just one girl is able to get out of a dangerous situation through my story, it would be worth it.”
Summer learned in her own life that is always worth it to ask for help. She acknowledged that the first step in getting help was to admit that she couldn’t do it by herself. She had to stop acting like she could handle everything on her own. It was only in this admission that she was willing to ask for help.
The result? She and her daughter Cindy are safe, healthy, and on their way to building their future together, with their hopes and dreams renewed.
If you or someone you know is in need, please reach out.
Below is a video testimony of a former resident at Toby's Place and friend of Summer. Take a moment to watch and then consider sharing with others so that together, we can advocate for the abused, the forgotten, and the hurting.