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SALT LAKE CITY — Jennifer Belt and Janel Robb have become good friends over the last three months. They have a lot in common.
“We might be addicts but we aren’t bad people. We just made bad choices,” Belt explained.
They are both mothers at the Odyssey House’s “Parents with Children Program.”
After a long battle with drugs, Robb was separated from her son.
“I lost him but I got him back by going to the parents program,” she said.
The program allows them to live with their children at the Odyssey House during their recovery with approval from child services. It includes both a mother’s and children program and a father’s and children program.
They are allowed to walk their children to school every day and then return to the house for daily therapy.
The program’s director, Megan Gailey, said, “They want to be parents. They love their children. We are a great avenue for them to… get back into a routine for their children… repair those relationships, so they can be that safe person that their children need.”
She explained the therapy includes substance abuse and mental health treatment, plus parenting lessons. The children also benefit from individual therapy to overcome trauma they have experienced, and family therapy to work with the family unit as a whole.
“Our parents work on both themselves and how to be better parents for their children and how to change some family dynamics,” Gailey said.
Belt said it’s a hard journey.
“But it’s worth it. It teaches you how to bring structure to your life, which as addicts we didn’t have any of that stability,” she said. “We are examples of people who are trying to get help and that can turn our lives around.”
The program also helps people in recovery develop practical skills to get back on their feet.
“They also have transitional housing so when we are done here we aren’t just sent out into the world. We get to slowly transition into society, where we are able to work on skills to do job interviews [and] to be at our own place," Belt said.
“I believe we are good people. We just deserve a second chance to prove ourselves,” Robb said.
Together with their children, both Robb and Belt look forward to a brighter future ahead. “It’s a new way of life and they take us from the beginning to the end,” Belt described.
To enroll in the program contact the admissions department at the Odyssey House at 801-322-3222 or visit the Odyssey House’s webpage.