By Tiffany Ferguson, Safe Families Maine Chapter
When Raelyn was referred to Safe Families for Children, she was a single mother struggling with mental health issues and caring for her 8-month-old son Wyatt. As Raelyn put it, “I was desperate, embarrassed, scared thinking Safe Families was similar to DHHS, and worried that I would lose my son.”
Raelyn was initially open to receiving support, but with past trauma she struggled to be open and vulnerable in a relationship. “I wasn’t using Safe Families as it was intended,” Raelyn shared, “I was really scared to be fully honest with what was going on for fear I would get in trouble and lose support from Safe Families for Children.” So Raelyn continued to feel isolated and alone even when she was receiving support from the Burr Family that lived within a mile from her. Living in isolation seems safe initially, but often cuts individuals off from receiving the truth and understanding reality.
“We recognize that God puts people in front of us for a reason,” shared Host Mom Erin Burr. “Even though it was difficult, and we had to have hard conversations…it was always in the best interest of Raelyn and Wyatt. Wyatt became such a huge part of our family, and we felt called to continue to support them even if we didn’t know what would happen next.”
Raelyn continued to battle with mental health, alcohol use disorder, and questioned if she was even capable of continuing to parent her son. A last minute cry for help came Easter weekend, when Raelyn knew that she was struggling with her mental health and desperately needed a break. Erin called the Family Coach to share that they were all set for the weekend and even had Wyatt an Easter basket ready to go! The Burr family continued to go the extra mile to make sure Wyatt felt welcomed and a part of the family.
Raelyn knew that she had a circle of support willing to help, but sometimes “help” is a really hard thing to accept. When Raelyn had her second son, Safe Families continued to host Wyatt while still having consistent conversations with the Family Coach around the goals she wanted to reach. However, often those conversations would often end in tears and anger. Looking back Raelyn would share with Safe Families that she still felt isolated and continued to hide in a bad relationship that she wasn’t ready to get out of. But as leaders of Celebrate Recovery, the Burr Family would always invite Raelyn to join them and continued wrap-around support of her children.
As Fredrick Douglas put it “if there is no struggle there is no change.” A big change happened on August 21, 2022 when Raelyn accepted Jesus and was baptized at Life Church Gorham. At this time she began to regularly attend church and Celebrate Recovery. As a new Christian she would look to Erin, and others who had supported her in a brand new way and with new perspective. She was not alone! Through multiple hostings and tough love from a family coach, Raelyn would share, “That was the worst time of my life having to make some hard decisions, and I would not have been able to make it through without Safe Families for Children. I didn’t think I would be able to heal from the pain that I was feeling.”
When a parent calls Safe Families for Children, that doesn’t always mean they are ready to “change” but it does mean they know that they need support from compassionate, devoted, loving volunteers. A volunteer still to this day, texts Raelyn each morning a scripture of the day. Raelyn has been sober since January 2022, and is now serving on Safe Families for Children Maine Development Team. She truly believes that the constant hospitality and God’s perfect timing made all the difference. Host Erin Burr would sum up their experience with Raelyn’s family, “Because of the commitment to Raelyn and Wyatt, showing Jesus’ love and grace even when times were hard, I believe we did what Safe Families is meant to do. And because of that years later, we now have a success story.”