Springs Rescue Mission:

Through 'trials and tests,' motherhood keeps Kim focused on future

Through 'trials and tests,' motherhood keeps Kim focused on future

Motherhood is a driving force in Kim’s life.Her mom shaped her life, and she's made it her mission to do the same for her own daughter Cheyenne.“She’s the greatest thing in the world to me,” she said. “She is my world.”But years of hardship, addiction and homelessness led to Kim's loss of custody in 2018. Now, the thought of Cheyenne's return is a daily focus — a horizon toward which to look when life seems bleak.

“I just want her to come home,” Kim said. “I’m tired of not being with her.”

The Long and Winding Road

Kim describes her life as one “of trials and tests.” That’s been especially true since her mom’s death in 2010.“My mom is the reason I am who I am today,” she said.

Kim was born and raised in Des Moines and was a thread in the fabric of a tight-knit midwestern family.After graduating high school in 1993, she moved to Fountain to find her own way; and she did, getting a job in the construction business as a road flagger that led to a 17-year career. Her mother followed her west just a few years later and Cheyenne was born in 2004 — it was love at first sight. But by that time Kim's marriage was deteriorating, and she soon became a single mother.“My mom helped a lot with Cheyenne and taught me a lot about taking care of her,” Kim said. “My mom watched her when I went back to work, and that was hard. There were a lot of firsts I missed, but I tried to do what was best for us and to support her.”Just a few years later, her mother’s health began to decline. Her death in 2010 left Kim devastated.

“I had to go home and tell my daughter that grandma wasn’t coming home,” she said. “I didn’t deal with her death very well. I was very broken. I drank a lot. I got into trouble. It was not a good time for me at all.”

To Hurt is to be Human

Fraught with the tragedy of death and divorce, 2010 became the year Kim’s battle with alcohol first began.“It took care of the pain,” she said. “I just wanted the pain to stop.”Her life spiraled downward for the next seven years: alcoholism and addiction; arrests and court-ordered therapy; eventually the loss of her job and her home. In 2017, Kim and Cheyenne began living in their truck. They tried to make the best of it, but there was no denying that life had become unmanageable.“I made sure she went to school every day, then I’d pick her up and we’d go to the park — walk, play, just hang out,” she said. “I think it was hard but in a way I think that experience, for both of us, made us stronger. So now when anything happens, we know we can get through it.”Despite the circumstances, Kim tried desperately to provide Cheyenne with a sense of stability. But the Department of Human Services didn't see it that way and removed Cheyenne from her custody in 2018. Kim's life hadn't been easy, but the loss of her daughter came as a new and unimaginable blow.Again devastated by loss, her life continued in a downward spiral. Her anxiety was at an all-time high, she drank to kill the pain and her truck was repossessed.

“I was lost,” she said. “I had lost everything: I lost my mind; I lost my kid; I lost my home; I lost my truck. I just didn’t care anymore. I was broken – very, very broken.”

A Wide River to Cross

Kim arrived at Springs Rescue Mission at Christmastime 2018.Suffering anxiety attacks and other mental health issues made it difficult for her to reach out for help and support. She isolated, avoiding people as best she could in the environment of a homeless shelter. But with the help of compassionate fellow guests — including Aric and Tammy — Kim gradually came out of her shell. She cautiously began the long journey back to life.“I started opening up and meeting people,” she said. “I had no idea where to go and what to do, but they were really nice to me and helped me a lot. … Things started slowly getting better. I got in Work Engagement and that was like therapy for me; it kept my mind off drinking, it kept me busy and gave me something to look forward to — it gave me my hope back.”

While on laundry duty in the Resource Center, Kim met another shelter guest named Patrick. The two quickly became close, laughing and flirting with each other over the washers and dryers. Soon they began dating, and last summer they moved into their own apartment at Greenway Flats.“He got word that he got an apartment there,” Kim said. “He asked if I could be put on the lease, and now here we are almost a year later. … When we first moved in here it was hard. We’re used to the noise and light and things going on around us. It took a couple of weeks to get used to that. ... But we're here for each other, and we help each other. And that's what matters."They adopted a kitten named Chester to help with Kim's anxiety and have since both graduated the Careers in Construction program through SRM. Life has changed a lot in just a year, and Kim says there are many reasons to be grateful. But she's honest about the fact that nothing's perfect.There is still a long was to go and much to do, but there is one thing that keeps Kim pushing forward: her beloved daughter. She keeps a hopeful eye on the future, working hard reunite with Cheyenne (almost 16 now). Kim longs to carry the mantel of motherhood again.“You have to have faith,” she said. “You can’t give up. You have to be patient — your time will come. Don’t give up. Never give up.”

“Although you’re struggling right now and things seem bleak and hopeless, God does work miracles. He works in mysterious ways. All you have to look around, especially here at Greenway Flats. You’ve got to have the right people in your life, people to support you and motivate you. Positive people. Once you find those keys in life, anything is possible.”

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