Many of our clients have walked a hard road before reaching our program doors. Here they share their personal stories about the lives they were living, the programs that helped them, and how they want to give back to the world.
Malama Family Recovery Center
“I was born on Oahu, I came to Maui when I was 10 years old. One of the first places I lived on Maui was at the Women Helping Women shelter. My father was very physically and mentally abusive, and he was an addict. My mom took us away from him because he was very violent. I loved to sing as a child, and my mom always told me I always carried a light within me, and somehow I was very positive, despite my surroundings. But I used to get beaten up a lot by my father, I would have bruises from head to toe. I learned then, as a small child, what I need to do to survive. I was always afraid, but I always had hope.
“In high school, my mom encouraged us to all to be active in sports and other activities, and I was a cheerleader all four years. In my junior year I started drinking and partying; I was trying to fit in, because I didn’t know what my self-worth was. I had daddy issues. This caused me to jump into different relationships, and I became toxic; I became my dad.
“I had different stages of substance use – alcohol and weed, which is the gateway to cocaine; I was experimenting with heroin, then I was trying opioids, then later meth, both smoking it and then injecting it.
“These are what brought me to Malama. My daughter’s father left me, and my whole world crashed. He left me for someone else, but I was the toxic one. I lost my kids. Then I went to jail. It saved my life. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be clean.
“The day the cops picked me up, I had used a bad needle. I should have died that day. They had to cut the needle out of my hand so the infection wouldn’t go to my heart.
“In February 2022 I made four years clean.
“I have so much gratitude for what I have today, because I saw the very bottom.
“I became involved with NA and church, and I built a foundation of support for myself. All the people I hang out with now are in recovery; I had to change everything. The one thing I’m most grateful for is my change in mindset. The brain does heal, and we do recover.
“It took me a long time, almost my whole life, to stop being angry at my father. I’m free today. I learned to love my scars by forgiving those who gave them to me, including myself. I learned how to love my whole self. That’s what Malama helped me with.
“Since participating in this program, my hope for the future is to continuously be the change I want to see, to be the positive example, as one less drug addict out there.
“I started college in January 2021. I never thought I would do that. And I love my job so much, it doesn’t even feel like work. I’m in this field because it reminds me where I never want to go again. It also allows me to help people because I have my experience to share. I love recovery.”
Spring Taylor, Age 36
Spring now works as a Program Assistant in the Aloha House residential program, and is studying Liberal Arts and Human Resources at UHMC.
“My journey with Malama Family Recovery Center started on August 4th 2012. I was 26 years old and addicted to meth and prescription pills, my two children lived with my parents, and I no longer cared if I lived or died. MFRC changed that for me. This program gave me the tools, the support and most importantly, the confidence in myself that I needed to stay clean. The staff here made me see that I am worth it.
“Now, almost 10 years clean later, I am a staff member here. Today I get to be a part of the team that brings love and light to the women and children in our community. I get to help show women that they are worth it, they deserve to be happy, healthy and free of drugs and alcohol. We care and we are here. After graduating the program, I was able to be a mommy to my kids, a sister, aunty, daughter to my family. I went back to school and soon I will graduate with a Bachelors Degree.
“With the tools gained here I am able to stay driven and motivated to achieve my goals while maintaining my sobriety. After working in the transportation field for almost nine years, and was offered a position here at Malama. I was grateful and humbled to be given this opportunity to give back what was given to me. Here I am.”
Roxanne Feiteira, Age 35
Roxanne continues to work at Malama while completing her studies in Business Information Technology and Computer Science.
“The life I have today is a direct result of what Malama can do for someone.
“I was introduced to the program in 2003 when I was pregnant with my first child. At that time of my life I was not ready to change, and fell back into my old ways. The staff at Malama never gave up on me, no matter how many time I tried and failed, they keep showing me love. In 2018 I came back again and this time something in me changed. I learned how to cope with my emotions which used to take me out. I learned how to identify my triggers and find healthy ways to manage them, all the while learning to love myself. I learned how to be a mother to my children and so much more.
“My passion for life, goals and dreams came alive once again, and since then I have been able to build a life worth living.
“Today, I am an employee with Malama, and it is in my heart now to see other women set free from the bondage of addiction, so that they too can build healthy lifestyles. I will always be grateful for each woman at Malama that loved me until I could love myself.”
Ramona Rodarte Kihoi, Age 40
Ramona has joined the staff at Malama as she works toward becoming a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor
“Before becoming a client with Malama Family Recovery Center, I was living a life of insanity; doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. I was not being honest with my family, friends, or my probation officer. I was living a lie, and lying to everyone. If I hadn’t found this program, I would still be in my addiction, unable to get out of the pit of Hell. Malama helped to shape me into the strong, virtuous woman that I am today.
“Here I’ve been able to fully incorporate the value of kupono – honesty and integrity – and this has made a huge impact on my life. I was able to graduate from Malama and accomplish my goal of becoming a staff member.
“I had the opportunity to give back to an agency that helped to form my foundation today. In the future, I want to continue to help lift other women up to be the strong women that they were made to be.”
Lisa is currently working on educational pursuits, and remains committed to helping those most in need. Her time as both a client and a staff member at Malama has helped her find her potential while on her journey to help others.