Brighton Center at its very core is a community based agency. The people in our community and their needs are the driving force behind the work we do. Trends and fads will come and go, but Brighton Center will always provide services the community needs and wants. Every day, Brighton Center works to engage all members of the community from young children to seniors so that real change can become reality. Every one of them has a story worth sharing... the following are just a few.
It was the middle of August, 2017, and my three kids and I were homeless. That whole year was rough; we had been spending nights on the street, wandering around the streets of Newport during the day, not sure of where to turn for help, until someone told me Brighton Center could help with clothing and food. I met with Tiffany Neri at the Family Center, and she started guiding me to the right places and resources to get me back on my feet.
It’s not easy being a single dad of three. You don’t get as much help. I make too much money at my job to qualify for food stamps, but I’m not eligible for child support. I’m teaching myself the roles of being both a mom and a dad to my kids – learning to be patient, to listen, and be more sensitive while giving them structure, guidance, and discipline.
On top of making sure my kids and I had our basic needs met, Tiffany helped me sign up for Brighton Center’s Rapid Rehousing program. Amazingly, within two months, I was lucky enough to sign the lease to my new apartment on Christmas Eve. It was such a great Christmas present.
Brighton Center helped me overcome food and housing insecurity. The staff helped me provide stability for my kids. We’re now able to have a home. We can go outside and toss a football. I just taught my son how to ride his bike. My kids have so many new friends in our new neighborhood – where before, they were isolated. They can grow, learn, and express themselves with kids their own age. I’ve learned how to be the responsible man and father my kids need; keeping myself on the right path and not just living in survival mode. I can think through problems more clearly now, and provide for my family. Brighton Center helped me grow and mature in a big way. Without the help I received, I might have lost my kids to the system.
I have gained new confidence in my ability to be a parent, as well as the tools to establish goals and the courage to achieve them. Tiffany also helped me sign up for the Individual Development Account, which will match what I’m able to save so I can buy a car.
My life has changed so much since I met Tiffany with Brighton Center. I don’t worry anymore about my kids ending up in an adoption agency, because I have the resources to give them a home and the courage to raise them the right way. To those who might be afraid of reaching out, Brighton Center will be there, ready to meet you where you are. Do the work in your program, and they will work with you. 11
The Elizabeth Herald Community Support Award was established to honor those people or organizations who work side by side with us to achieve our mission and impact our communities. The award is named after Liz Herald, who was a long-time volunteer who spent countless hours leading a quilting class for the neighborhood, planning day outings for local seniors, and serving on our Board of Directors. She set an example of leadership and believed in our mission with all her heart and soul. This award is the highest honor we give a community partner.
This year, we are proud to honor Duke Energy with the Community of Support Award.
Not only has Duke Energy helped steer the direction of our organization through many years of board member participation, but they’ve played a strong role in the community along with serving on the Workforce Investment Board, GROW NKY, the Chamber, and many other non-profit Boards. They are truly invested in the NKY community!
Volunteerism and financial support also reflects Duke’s commitment to Brighton Center. Most recently, Duke volunteers mentored young adults at our City Futures program, helped clean up Campbell Lodge, and supported the STEM Bicycle Club. Duke volunteers also built a shed at Brighton Recovery Center and painted and cleaned up an apartment on 10th street in Newport for our Transitional Living Program. They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and put in some sweat equity for our customers.
When we look back at how they have supported our events and programs – we can document over $150,000! They’ve helped support the Center for Employment Training, NKY Scholar House, Kentucky Career Center, and Brighton Recovery Center. Our staff also have negotiated countless payment plans between Duke and our customers. They’ve made available energy audits and the supplies to make homes more energy efficient available to our neighbors, and they’ve helped us save money on our facilities, too, with special programs to install LED lighting.
Their reach is far and wide, touching many people’s lives in a positive way. We are grateful for their partnership and shared vision of creating a strong workforce and community.
I was lost in active addiction for close to 20 years before coming to Brighton Recovery Center (BRC). I struggled being a mother to my four children. I was unemployable, untrustworthy, and unreliable, isolated from family, and could not see the crash course which lied ahead in my own future.
While in active addiction, I had a few run-ins with the Department of Corrections due to my unmanageable lifestyle. In 2012, I became a resident of BRC through a Department of Corrections referral. The Recovery Center saved my life. If it were not for the amazing long-term program and the caring staff that loved me through the process, I doubt I would be able to tell my story today.
When I came to BRC I did not want to be surrounded by so many women, but I wanted sobriety more than anything. I was reluctant in the beginning, but saw something in the women that I wanted. As I progressed through the components of the program I began to see changes in myself that made me want sobriety even more and in all aspects of my life.
Brighton Center taught me how to live. I learned the Recovery Dynamics program which introduced me to a 12-step program to treat my addiction. I was able to use the tools I learned to change my habits and lifestyle, which has given me the ability to become a productive member of society.
I no longer wake up in the morning regretting my life, needing to feed my addiction, and cursing GOD. Now, I wake up and thank GOD for my sobriety and all the blessings that he has given me. I have no regrets now because I know how to use my journey to help others with their own. I now have a clear path for my future. I am an awesome mom to my (now) five children. I met my significant other in recovery. He and I have purchased our first home just over a year ago. I am now a trustworthy friend, 12-step supporter, BRC alumni, and a reliable source of hope for others. Today, I have over seven years of sobriety, spend lots of time with my family, and I am blessed to be employed with the program that saved my life.
My hopes and dreams for the future are to continue pursuing a career in addiction and recovery and to use what I have learned in my journey to help others. This is a passion I hold dear to my heart. I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in the program which saved my life. I am forever grateful to BRC for seeing in me what I could not see in myself so long ago. I can hold my head up high with dignity, knowing that I am no longer that lost little girl, but an empowered woman with a bright future. Thank you, Brighton Center.
Homeward Bound provided a safe place for my son off the streets. It was a relief to know Xavion was safe and sheltered while I worked to get our situation straightened out.
I continued to stay on the streets for a couple of weeks until there was an opening at a local homeless shelter called Welcome House. During that time, I was able to visit Xavion every day. Staff at Homeward Bound always made sure I had food and basic necessities. Staff also worked with me through case management to look at job openings, apartment listings, and made sure we had proper documentation to apply for services such as child care assistance. Once I knew my son was safe, I was able to concentrate on finding employment, learn how to save and budget, and secure an apartment.
Over the summer, Xavion was able to participate in Youth Leadership Development (YLD) where he had the best summer ever enjoying activities he never would have otherwise. YLD taught him to be more respectful and follow rules better. Despite our situation, he was very happy and secure. When we finally got our own apartment, Homeward Bound staff helped moved us in. Welcome House and Brighton Center staff partnered to ensure we had kitchen items, bath items, and donated furniture, including a kitchen table and chairs.
One of the things I learned about myself through this journey is that I am capable and can take care of my son and myself. I learned that people did want to help us and I wasn’t alone.
I am now stably housed with my son who is in school and doing well. I am working full-time and we feel so much safer. I know that Brighton Center is there for me if I need help in the future. No matter what your situation is, don’t hesitate. Go to Brighton Center and talk to someone. They may not have all the answers, but they will work to find someone who does.
When asked for one word to describe herself, Aurora Butler did not hesitate. “Adaptable,” she said. “I am always able to adapt to my situation and make it work for me. Although being the sole provider for three children is difficult, I knew I could not give up."
Aurora:My experience with Brighton Center began over two years ago. The community of City Heights was hosting a job fair. As a resident of City Heights, I decided to attend the event with a friend. At the job fair, I met a representative from Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training (CET). The following week, I attended an info session and enrolled shortly after in the Medical Assisting skill division. CET deserves all the credit for providing the foundation I needed to be successful.
After graduation, I was hired as a medical assistant at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. I don’t own a vehicle and rely on public transportation. Despite the almost hour and a half daily commute each way, I was able to maintain employment at The Christ Hospital for close to a year. In late March 2019, my day care provider could no longer provide coverage after 6:00 p.m. With the length of my commute, it was impossible to maintain my position at The Christ Hospital and be back in time to pick up the kids from day care. This left me with no other choice but to resign.
After resigning from my position, I was feeling depressed. I reached out to my Career Coach at CET who set up an appointment at the City Futures office in City Heights. The Career Coach and Career Developer with the City Futures program helped update my resume and initiate a job search. I began to volunteer daily at the City Futures office and am now serving as a Community Coach working with residents on their career pathway. Finally, the call I had been waiting for finally came. St. Elizabeth Healthcare wanted me to come in for an interview.
I worked with the City Futures Career Developer to get ready for the interview through mock interviews to help prepare for the big day. I was connected to Dress for Success for appropriate professional clothing. I was nervous, but feeling confident. I knew I had what it took to be successful. Then came the good news, I got my dream job!
Adaptability and a belief in herself. Those were the keys to opening up a whole new future for Aurora. When learning of her new career at St. Elizabeth, Aurora felt that she had “overcome the impossible.” She had wanted to work at St. Elizabeth since she interned there in 2017. After her internship, St. Elizabeth did not have any openings and Aurora took the position at The Christ Hospital. Over the past two years, she applied for a number of positions but had been unable to break through. Aurora kept pushing, never giving up on her dream. Today, she has accomplished her goal and is ready to begin working on her next one. She is working with a financial coach through the City Futures program and her next goal is to purchase a car and eventually a home.
Aurora continues to serve as a mentor and role model for her community. She participates in programs and events sponsored by the City Futures program and encourages her friends and neighbors to do the same. Aurora knows that her story is a story of empowerment. She readily shares it to offer hope to others and to let them know dreams really can come true.
Before coming to Brighton Center I was living in Kansas City, where I struggled in life, running from my problems and listening to peers’ advice who were struggling themselves. My grandmother had recently moved to Cincinnati and wanted to help my son and I. She encouraged me to move and obtain my GED - which I did in three months through the help of the YWCA.
My first interaction with Brighton Center was shortly after moving to Northern Kentucky from Kansas City with one child and another on the way. Feeling very alone and in “last place,” I had fallen behind on my rent. I reached out to Brighton Center and met with a Resource Advocate, Amy Thornton. I remember being so scared walking in those doors, but Amy looked me in the eyes and said, “Do you really think this is it for you?” I immediately felt a weight lifted off of me and even though the immediate crisis was not fixed, her words lifted my spirit and ultimately changed my life.
Through Amy’s encouragement, I was accepted into Northern Kentucky Scholar House and was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, as well as grants and awards from other agencies, so I could attend Gateway Community & Technical College. Because of Brighton Center and other agencies, I am now a Social Work major and am proud to say I have 4.0 GPA. I expect to graduate in the fall of 2020 with my associate’s degree and then I will be pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Northern Kentucky University.
I am feeling stable and learning the importance of good credit and managing my income so I can support my two children - Travon, who is 9 and Tadin, who is 3. I am so proud of these boys. Travon is often seen at Scholar House offering to help moms carry in their groceries or sticking up for friends who may be feeling bullied at school. Tadin is doing well at Bright Days Child Development Center, another wonderful Brighton Center program. I am also able to give back, most recently sharing my story at a United Way kick-off event at Procter & Gamble. I also volunteer at Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission.
If I could send one message to others I would say, don’t be afraid of help, be afraid of NOT asking for help. Waiting to figure it out may not always work, but reaching out to Brighton Center will open doors you don’t expect, and will help you get further than you would ever imagine.
I realize now that feeling in “last place” had value because my children and our future came first.
In December 2018, my son and I were homeless. With all of our belongings in a backpack, we jumped couch to couch just to stay out of the cold.
I never questioned my ability to be a mom. I knew I could do it, but situations like finding work without steady child care or getting the right education when you can’t find the time, make it hard to get by. At the time, we were the only family each other had.Continue reading »
When asked for one word to describe herself, Aurora Butler did not hesitate. “Adaptable,” she said. “I am always able to adapt to my situation and make it work for me.” Although these past few months have been difficult for Aurora, as the sole provider for her three children she could not give up. She was determined to keep pushing forward and that perseverance has paid off. Aurora has found her dream job at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.Continue reading »