TROSA graduate Elyse started using substances at age 12. “I remember my first time drinking, in the 6th grade,” she shares. “And I remember wanting to feel that way again every single day. I would save up my lunch money for it…I became obsessed.”

She entered her first treatment program at age 18. “I was thinking these programs would be a quick fix for me, and that things would go back to normal…I just thought I knew everything. As time progressed, I started to get locked-up and hospitalized, and I realized I was too far down the road. I knew that if I didn’t stop, I was going to die.”

Elyse’s parents worried for her every day and paid for several programs throughout her years in addiction. “My family was trying to keep me alive. I don’t know what I would have done without my family. Even though I was in addiction for so long, I knew how I was raised. 20 years of addiction couldn’t take away what my family built me to be as a person. My family did everything they could have done for me, but I knew that if I was going to change, I was going to have to do this for myself…if I really wanted help, I was going to have to do the footwork. When I was ready, my mom gave me a piece of paper with free programs on it and I picked TROSA.”

At TROSA, residents receive cost-free housing, meals, vocational training, counseling, therapeutic classes and groups, health services, and more. And graduates receive continuing care recovery services, including transitional housing and transportation to and from their places of employment. At TROSA, Elyse joined a supportive community that helped her discover the changes she needed to make to get on the path to recovery. She shares that classes in Anger Management and evidence-based counseling groups focused on behavioral changes were especially impactful; as were the TROSA Women’s Program staff and her peers in recovery.

“Having the other women in the program hold me responsible for my behavior was needed. The strength of our women’s program staff impressed me so much…seeing these women as leaders for me, helped me to remember things about myself. They were examples of what a strong woman can be. And I learned I had something to offer as a mentor…to help the younger women in the program.”

Every TROSA resident participates in community assignments to practice daily behavioral changes and life skills, such as communication and teamwork. TROSA’s female lawn care crew is a small but important team with the responsibilities of maintaining the central TROSA campus properties. Elyse was part of the crew who maintained these properties.

“I was drawn to women’s lawn care. I wanted to be a part of something that hadn’t been done in many years at TROSA. I also knew from years of rehab that instant gratification was something that worked against me in active addiction; I needed to flip that in a positive direction, and lawn care helped me do that. Now, there was gratification in seeing something ‘messy’ and then making it aesthetically pleasing again.”

Elyse is also proud of her efforts to help expand the scope of TROSA’s female lawn care crew, as they helped to newly maintain our transitional housing properties during COVID-19.

When asked if she had prior experience with landscape or yard work, Elyse shares: “Not really. My grandfather had taught me how to mow the lawn, and I had picked up leaves before…but, other than that, nothing else. I taught myself how to edge…I made mistakes, but I learned, and it pushed me to become better. TROSA’s Lawn Care Manager Steve Hill helped and guided me…and was always so supportive of me. He reminded me as I was learning that the grass would grow back.”

In addition to building confidence and fostering a sense of purpose, community assignments also provide marketable skills and credentials. Through a course developed by TROSA Lawn Care and colleagues from NC State University, TROSA provides certifications in lawn care, and Elyse earned her Grounds Maintenance certification while in TROSA’s program. Elyse gained the experience, responsibility, and focus needed to secure employment at a lawn care and landscaping company after her program graduation. “I work on HOA and commercial properties…full perimeters and pathways. I am using the same tools and machines that I used at TROSA, just on a larger scale.” Elyse shares that one day she would like to use her creativity and talents to learn hardscaping—using mosaic and other decorative landscape elements.

With a new outlook on life, Elyse is now able to think about her future and work towards goals.

“I went to school for business for two years, and I would love to be able to establish a business one day, and employ people that are needing a job that have gone through a treatment program. I’d love to be able to give others the opportunity that TROSA gave to me. I still have a lot to do before that… but I definitely have a 5-year plan. To me, that’s amazing. In addiction, I didn’t even have a 5-hour plan!”

Elyse is taking classes on small business practices and is eager to give back and to help others in recovery. She is active in her local recovery community: “I want to be somebody that other women can look up to. It’s so important to have people to help guide you.” And she wants people in active addiction to know that there is hope. “I was talking with a woman who shared that her daughter was in addiction. I told her that if her daughter wanted to find a place where she can find herself, become herself, and leave with herself…TROSA is that place.”