A typical rags to riches story usually ends with a person becoming extremely wealthy or famous. Well, this isn’t exactly your classic rags to riches story.
But for Aimee Covey, it’s more than enough.
On Oct. 17, 2015, Covey lost custody of her three kids. They went into foster care because of drugs and domestic violence. Covey was homeless the next day when her mother kicked her out.
Almost nine months later, she took her first step to recovery. Covey entered rehab at Sid Martin Bridge House on July 28.
“In my addiction, I didn’t realize how severe it was. I thought I could drop it whenever I wanted to but that was not the case,” Covey said. “I forgot how to live. I forgot how to take care of myself. I forgot how to be a mom. I thought I was doing great, and I was doing horrible.”
Through her rehabilitation at Bridge House, Covey learned about the Arbor House.
The Arbor House, a facet of the St. Francis House, is a transitional house for both single women with and without children. The house offers six-month leases where the women pay rent and do chores while receiving support and learning skills, said Jessica Miller, a case worker at the Arbor House.
Covey has been living at the Arbor House since October.
“It’s very comfortable here. With other programs and stuff, I’ve never had landlords that want you to do better in your life, not just pay your rent,” the 27-year-old said.
With her children out of foster care and living with a family member, Covey is able to see them as much as she would like. But she hopes to be permanently reunited with her children soon.
Covey, who is waitressing at IHOP, will be participating in a program at the Arbor House called Hope Chest.
The Hope Chest Program was born out of a partnership between the Arbor House and A Mother’s Hope. A 19-week education model will be offered to the mothers at the Arbor House, where they will be able to earn items for themselves and their children. The course will begin on Dec. 3.
“They are able to get the things they need. It’s a hand up, not a hand-out,” Jennifer Maynard, Founder and Executive Director of A Mother’s Hope, said.
The course focuses on parenting education, self-care education and life skills training. As the mothers go through the program and reach their goals they will receive points. They are able to redeem these points at the Hope Chest. Everything in the Hope Chest is from donations, said Maynard.
The six or seven mothers participating in the program, like Covey, have volunteered to take the course.
“We want to make sure that the people who are participating are really excited to be there and want to get something out of it,” Miller said.
Covey chose to take the course to be a better mom to her kids. She hopes to learn things that will help her be more productive for her children and herself.
“The goals I have going into it are to be a better mom, to be a better person,” Covey said. “The Arbor House and the Hope Chest help people that really need it. If you need something, it’s there. If you can’t get it, they can help you.”
In Alachua County, the number of children removed from their homes due to their parents’ inability to cope is 10 percent higher than the state of Florida, according to Maynard.
“My hope is that we can change these outcomes,” Maynard said. “Through education and accountability, we can flip this. Parents, equipped and powered with healthy coping strategies, can know that there is support for them to parent in a healthy way.”
Covey plans to renew her lease at the Arbor House and eventually have her children come and live with her there.
“I figure if I can get through, be alive and be sober now living through the months I did, I feel as if I can do anything now,” Covey said.