With help from Marisol Homes, Nichole regains custody of her son

When she entered Marisol Homes, 27-year-old Nichole had been fighting a battle with addiction for eight years. When she was in her early 20’s, despite her opioid use, she had been able to maintain jobs in Crested Butte and Breckenridge. Soon, however, her coworkers noticed challenges that came from her drug use, and she lost her job and her stable income. Her journey into homelessness began.

“I would stay on friends’ couches, in their garages or their sheds. I even slept in my own car more times than I care to remember,” shared Nichole.

Life took on a new meaning in October 2020 when she gave birth to her son, Aiden. Although she hoped the arrival of Aiden would force her to get clean, she continued to struggle with sobriety. Nichole moved to Denver with Aiden to find a new community and a fresh start.

“At first Denver was far worse, because we didn’t know many people and I was without a vehicle. For the first month, we stayed with some friends, but then they lost their housing. I had little money but was able to get a hotel room for a few nights to try to figure out what to do next,” said Nichole.

In her fight to get sober, Nichole suffered a seizure due to withdrawals. A trip to the hospital led to Aiden being temporarily placed in the custody of Child Protective Services (CPS). Looking back at this traumatic event, Nichole considers it a “blessing in disguise.”

“It was horrible at first, being without my son. But I knew he was safe. And at the time, that was more than I could offer him. The judge on our case said that I could get him back, but I needed to find stable, suitable housing,” Nichole shared. Nichole was staying at an emergency shelter in Denver that was preparing to close. She considers the next phase as one of God’s graces. That emergency shelter connected her to Samaritan House on Lawrence Street, operated by Catholic Charities of Denver. At the time, the family floor was full, so she was referred to Marisol Homes, also operated by Catholic Charities, which is a residence for single pregnant women as well as for single woman with children. Once her application was received, Nichole moved in almost immediately

“I remember talking to Vin (the program manager at Marisol Homes) on the phone, and I could hear the excitement that he had for me, knowing that when I moved in, I would likely get my son back,” said Nichole.

While at Marisol Homes, Nichole made it her mission to stay busy. She got Aiden back from the foster care system the day after she moved in and knew from then on, she wouldn’t and couldn’t experience life without him in her arms. With the ongoing support at Marisol Homes, she was able to provide him with the safety he deserved.

Nichole attended classes, both at Marisol Homes and at the Jefferson County Business and Workforce Center. She was earning certificates and had a newfound love for learning. At Marisol Homes, she actively participated in classes about sobriety, life skills and parenting — any class that was available to her. She said she wanted to learn as much as possible to be a better mother to her son.

During a weekly community meeting at Marisol Homes, Nichole learned of a job opportunity. She applied and has been working ever since at the Women’s Bean Project, a transitional job program that manufactures food.

Most recently, Nichole received her Peer Support Specialist certification to help women that have been in her shoes. “I want to be a Family Advocate working with families that have lost their children to the CPS system, as well. I want to pass on the resources I’ve learned and create that feeling of hope for families that have lost theirs,” said Nichole. “I gained my hope back being surrounded by the people that helped me through my toughest times, and I want to be able to give other people that feeling back, as well.”