I grew up on the Southside of Houston. I had both parents in the household. I have two older siblings and a younger sibling.
I kind of dropped out of high school and floated around for a little bit. Then I went to Job Corps
. I got my GED while I was at Job Corps, and I eventually decided that what I went there for, which was to be an aide, wasn't for me. So I kind of just kept floating around, trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do.
I struggled with addiction for roughly two years. I was in and out of drugs, in and out of jail. So I had tried to get clean maybe 3 or 4 times before this time, and it never seemed to stick.
On April 24th of 2014, I was incarcerated for 8 months. I had a three year-old and a one year-old - they're 3 and 5 now - but they were 1 and 3 at the time. And while I was in jail, I ended up losing my mom. It had a major impact on me; it was sad that I had to come to the realization about just how much of my life I had wasted by losing my mom.
I got to SER by way of Angela House
, which is a transitional living facility. That's where I went after I made the decision, while I was incarcerated, to change my life around. Angela House is an awesome, amazing platform and a nice place to get my life on track.
I actually worked with a couple of people [at SER]. I worked with Ms. Carmela [Walker, SER Financial Coach] and Ms. Felicia Hines [SER Workforce Development Lead]. They were great. Seeing as how I have 3 felonies that show up on my background, they helped me figure out how I needed to explain that to employers, as far as my lack of working experience. They did an awesome job helping me with my resume, my cover letter, and my elevator speech. I mean, I had never gone through such rigorous training on how to get a job! They did an amazing job getting me ready.
The job that I got through SER was really down my alley, which was Cenikor
. I was a behavioral health tech at a rehab. And that was amazing for me because I am in recovery and to be able to work with people that are going through what I went through was amazing.
The job that I have now, I didn't actually get through SER, but it was the resume that Ms. Felicia helped me do that helped me get the job I have now. I'm a receptionist for New Hope Housing. I try to choose jobs that are going to be in health and human services because that's what I'm going for.
I plan on becoming a recovery coach specialist. I am a recovery coach currently, but I need to have 500 hours so I can take the board test. I plan on graduating school for my human services degree in 2018. I would like to own some recovery houses. Maybe establish an organization geared towards women and children of addiction. I think we all need a helping hand. That's way more in my lane, you know, helping people that are going through what I've been through, that are trying to come out of what I've come out of. I definitely want to do a YouTube channel dedicated to that.
I have a lot of different goals, and a lot of different lanes that I want to touch when it comes to helping people that are in addiction or coming out of addiction. Especially children who have mothers that have dealt with addiction. Because I understand what it feels like to have a parent who's addicted, and I understand what it feels like to be a mother who is addicted.
I used to always see inspirational stories and I was like, 'that is so cool. I'm gonna make it, too! I'm gonna make it.’ And I did - I got through. I'm forever grateful that I ran into SER.
SER is proud to provide second chances to returning citizens like Latoya through programs like Training to Work. You can read all about the Training to Work program by clicking here