19 Sep 180 Change: Jocelyn Shares Her Story
At just 12-years-old, Jocelyn had her first encounter with CHRIS 180. Her grandmother was looking for help after taking in Jocelyn and her brother, in the wake of their mother’s issues with substance use. Knowing that both children had experienced significant trauma, the family turned to our Keeping Families Together program. Jocelyn’s involvement with CHRIS 180’s wraparound services changed the direction of her life. It even led her to evolve from being a client to working as a behavioral health provider. Jocelyn found herself at CHRIS 180 once more when her very first post-grad job ended up being with the same organization that helped her and her family all those years ago.
“Growing up, my mother lived with addiction and battled her own traumatic upbringing without the tools she needed. She lived with mental health issues and was a teen mother with little support. I could very easily have been another victim to the generational cycle of trauma.
At age 12, my grandmother got custody of my brother and me. By that time, I had been to four different middle schools, and I was angry and confused. My grandmother was wonderful but was limited in her ability to manage all the trauma we were feeling. Thankfully, someone in the process recommended and connected us with a program called Keeping Families Together, a program of CHRIS 180.
Through the Keeping Families Together program, a therapist named Ms. Shirley came to our home and used what I now know as trauma-informed therapy during sessions. Honestly, I did not want anything to do with it. But I was made to engage. She also took me on trips to the bookstore – I didn’t know, at that age, that this was therapeutic. I’m still an avid reader to this day!
The year we worked with Ms. Shirley was transformational. It gave me tools to manage my feelings and I learned that therapy works and that I was the only person I could control. This experience inspired me to earn my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
In 2017, I moved back to Atlanta and began applying for jobs. I called my grandmother to tell her that I applied at an organization known as CHRIS 180. I didn’t know, until my grandmother told me, that CHRIS 180 was the organization that Ms. Shirley worked at decades ago. For several years, I worked as a Life Coach at the CHRIS 180 Drop-In Center, helping youth ages 16-24 who were at-risk or experiencing homelessness.
I left CHRIS 180 a few years ago and took all the skills I learned – both as a client of the program and practitioner – to DeKalb County Department of Family and Children Services. I am an investigator and case manager. In this role, I assess family situations and homes after reported incidents. I come up with a plan for service: counseling, anger management, and so much more to help heal families and keep them together. I connect them to community resources and, often, I refer families to CHRIS 180.
For more than 20 years I’ve been proud to be affiliated with this powerful organization. I am 20 years of CHRIS 180 – I have evolved from client to provider, from a wounded little girl to a woman who uses my experience and my clinical training to help others heal. I have, through my experience, turned into my own version of Ms. Shirley. My life has come full circle. I am here and living proof of the impact of CHRIS 180. I will continue the legacy with my family, my community, and through every client I touch.”
We are so proud of all that Jocelyn has accomplished and honored to have made a positive impact in her life. Supporters like you enable CHRIS 180 to provide children like Jocelyn a safe space where they can receive the resources they need from Keeping Families Together and other programs to heal from trauma.