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The Open Road - A Seacoast Family Promise Story

Speed bumps. Off-ramps. Bypasses. Kechia has seen it all in her life - but now she's on a road to renewal.

Kechia went to jail in 2005.

Her incarceration was the result of a relationship that, as she notes, “went very sour.”

Upon release she had no place to go. She ended up in a shelter, but that didn’t end well after she inadvertently started a fire by microwaving a Pop Tart. She went to another shelter. That also did not end well. She had to start over again.

And she was running out of destinations.

“We had nowhere,” she says. “We had nothing.”

In 2007, she and her eight-year old daughter made their way to Seacoast Family Promise, a last bastion that separated them from the streets (they were actually living on the streets for a few days following their urgent departure from the previous shelter). Following her intake interview with Executive Director Pati Frew-Waters, Kechia took her next step, started her next chapter.

But it wasn’t going to be easy.

“It was the best thing to ever happen to me,” she says. “But, at the same time, it was also the worst. Because I was held accountable for everything. Pati made me face my demons and my responsibilities. And I pushed the limits.”

By the end of 2007, Kechia “graduated” from the Seacoast Family Promise program, now equipped with fresh perspective, some humility, and a raft of real-world skills that she could apply to her new life chapter. She moved to a transitional housing program, where she stayed in her own apartment for the next two years. She eventually ended up in a permanent place in Somersworth, where she stayed for 10 years.

"Pati made me face my demons and my responsibilities. And I pushed the limits."

But that wasn’t the end of Kechia’s challenges. Somewhere along the way, still battling the debilitating emotional and psychological scars from her abusive childhood, Kechia developed a drug habit. Taking pills eventually devolved into shooting heroin, and she soon found herself in a downward spiral of drug abuse, which devastated her life and damaged her relationships.

“I was just doing everything and anything under the sun,” she said. “I was trying to numb the trauma that I had as a child.”

But drugs and darkness are not the end of Kechia’s journey. She clawed her way out of the abyss of addiction - no easy feat when it comes to heroin - and has been clean for the last year and a half. Today, she lives in Florida, about to buy a home, and on the cusp of earning her Commercial Driver's Llicense.

“I try to teach my daughter that you can break the cycle, and life is not perfect,” she says. “You are going to make mistakes. But it's all about what you learn from those mistakes. I’m not a bad person. I just made bad choices. What happened in your past does not determine your future.”

Her dream? To one day drive a tractor trailer across the U.S., criss-crossing the country and seeing the sights. She wants to put her trials and tragedies into the rearview mirror and head in a new direction. Maybe bring her daughter along for a stretch of the drive.

“Pati and Seacoast Family Promise literally saved my life,” she says. “If I didn’t have them, I would have ended up in prison. I would have lost my child. Without them I would not be the strong person that I am today.”

For Kechia, the past is in the past, and what lies ahead is opportunity and the promise of a new, improved version of herself.

The open road beckons.


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