When Ariel was in college, after 2.5 years of sobriety, she relapsed. Forced to leave school, she entered Minnesota Teen and Adult Challenge and then moved to Healing House. At the time, Ariel had a young toddler and knew it was important to change her path.
“Healing House is a long-term treatment program for women that allows their children to live with them,” Heidi, Ariel’s Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota (GESMN) career counselor explains. “I am onsite to meet with the women every month.”
“To be honest, I originally decided to work with Goodwill because it was convenient,” Ariel says. “I didn’t have childcare for my daughter, but Heidi would come to the house and meet with me. She was able to get my daughter set up with daycare, which was important because I knew I wanted to finish school.”
“At our first meeting, I knew Ariel was focused and determined to succeed,” Heidi says. “We were able to quickly arrange daycare for her daughter, which allowed her to focus on her treatment. She did well in treatment and after completing the final phase she quickly started college to finish her medical coding degree.”
Upon leaving the Healing House, Ariel got married and finished her final semester of school at Anoka Technical College; she maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Ariel was offered a job within two weeks of graduation doing medical coding from home.
“This is my dream job,” Ariel says with a smile. “My pay will be twice anything I’ve ever made in my life. Heidi and Goodwill have been instrumental in my success, both in my personal life and professionally. I opened up to Heidi that I have a fear of success since I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree and she said that’s a very common fear.”
“I love that Goodwill doesn’t treat you like a number,” Ariel says. “When you’re on government assistance, you’re just a number they’re trying to push along. And that’s totally fair and makes sense because they’re dealing with a lot of people, but Heidi instantly made this personal. She is willing to share things that she has overcome to help her clients do the same.”
Ariel is determined to overcome her barriers so she can make her now 6-year-old daughter proud.
“She is my driving force,” Ariel tears up a bit. “There were a lot of things that felt like glass ceilings for me in my life because my family hadn’t made it any further. There’s a kind of stigma to growing up in a trailer park and I struggled with addiction and I’m in recovery. Statistically, the odds are really stacked against me. I want my daughter to know that she can do anything she puts her mind to, and I believe she will learn from my example. I’m going to show her that I’ll keep going even if it seems like I’m not capable, but I’ll keep trying and keep learning.”
As for her advice to other people recovering from addiction and unsure of what to do next:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Ariel says. “There are so many people that are willing to help. I was so intimidated about filling out financial aid because no one in my family went to college. That kept me from signing up for school for years. I didn’t know who to turn to, but there are so many great resources. Including Goodwill!”