Meet Michele, a successful adult, running the kitchen at 2 Succeed, a program of MHCD (Mental Health Centers of Denver). But in the late 70’s, during her teenage years, Michele was a run away, living on the streets or at interim placements until she found herself in juvenile hall and eventually was placed with Third Way Center.
Michele was one of 16 youth living at Third Way Center’s only program at the time, our York House. Dave Eisner, Third Way Center’s Executive Director remembers Michele as one of the first clients he ever served.
Michele was in her mid-teens when she came to Third Way and was, in her own words, “incorrigible.” She knew she was bright, but struggled in school, had a turbulent relationship with her parents, and began using drugs – all of which led her to become an 8th grade drop-out and eventually a run-away in the criminal system. Her parents didn’t know what to do with her and she didn’t know how to care for herself. She was angry and alone until she was placed at Third Way.
During her time at York House Michele began to grow into the adult she is today. She was placed in an alternative high school and earned her GED. She learned how to live and work with other people. She was also exposed to intensive mental health services and psycho-therapy for the first time ever, which gave her an opportunity to speak openly with her mother and begin mending bridges. Third Way struck a balance that worked for Michele – enough structure to help her learn to take care of herself, but enough freedom to help her discover and nurture her interests, like cooking, a skill she uses in her career today.
Now Michele has a great relationship with her mother, which she credits to the family therapy she received at Third Way. She is also a proud mother of a 29 year old daughter. Her career is important to her; she has been in her position at 2 Succeed for 5 years and is even headed back to school to obtain her Certificate in Nutrition and become a Master Nutritional Therapist.
If she hadn’t been placed at Third Way, Michele is not sure that she would have stayed off the streets or out of jail. It took time, but she realizes now how important the foundations of learning she gained in her early adolescence are to her current success and recognizes that when kids are in trouble or in trauma, their ability to learn and grow cognitively can be significantly impaired. Third Way Center, she muses, “really fills in the gap with emotional education youth need to succeed.”