“I look at my life sometimes, and I don’t understand how I got here. I was sleeping on the streets six years ago. It took me a long time, a lot of hard work, and a lot of self-evaluation to get to a place where I felt worthy of this life that I have today, because of my past.”
Jeffrey works as a Juvenile Probation Associate, manages his apartment complex, and is a full time, single father of his two girls, Oceanna and Laili. He regained custody of them after completing almost a full year of supervised visits here at Innovative. He began fighting for custody when he noticed disturbing bruises on his youngest daughter’s body, as an infant. At the time, Jeffrey was homeless and unemployed, but wanted to keep his daughters out of danger, so he petitioned the court and had placed them in his mother’s custody. To achieve legal custody, because of his troubled past, he was ordered by the court to participate in supervised visits here at Innovative.
During this time, Jeffrey began attending school at Clark College to earn his Associate’s Degree, and then moved to WSU Vancouver to earn his Bachelor’s in Human Development, all the while building and maintaining a better relationship with his daughters through visitation. At the end of a year he received copies of the notes taken at their visits, all with good remarks, and he took them to court as further proof that he was capable of being a responsible parent. Over time, through continued hard work, Jeffrey earned the right to be granted custody of his daughters.
Having experienced the system himself, Jeffrey was inspired to help others in the community. He applied for a job at Innovative, and worked in the Supervised Visitation Program for a little over a year. “It was really overwhelming for me. The first time I walked into one of those visitation rooms and sat down to take notes, it was a room that I had gotten my visits in. It was a really humbling experience to come full circle like that. Being on the other side taught me a lot about working with people. The reality of it is that we’re not here to keep people from their kids, we are here to help people become more responsible parents and move towards getting their kids back.”
Today, Jeffrey is grateful for the reunification of his family, and his ability to support them. Oceanna is taking voice lessons, Laili is starting soccer, and their family makes plenty of time to spend with each other, especially on the weekends. “I learned that if I want to keep what I have, I have to give of myself. The only way I know how to do that is in service to others, by making myself a productive member of society. I have to practice this principle in all of my affairs. It worked for me, and I believe that still to this day.”