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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, April 25, 2012 7B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Meth or chilclren? Addict picks fariiY WHERE I STAND WENDY WEIGHT HOME STUDY SPECIALIST MOUNTAIN CIRCLE FAMILY SERVICES INC. When Michelle told her 6-year-old son she was going to be interviewed for this article, he said, "You're a star, Morn!" This is an accu- rate description of Michelle. She/s a "star," in the sense that she is much like an "entity in the darkness that generates its own light, fixed in place by gravitational forces." In Michelle's case, the gravitational forces in her life are her four children, ranging from age 5 to 8. '2 did it for them," she saysi'"and I want others who are strug- gling to know that this way of life is so much better!" Michelle tells her story of addiction with a mix of courage, humility and gratitude. It began slowly, with casual use of metham- phetamines (meth) in the evening-- a way to unwind from the stresses of a day parenting four small chil- dren. But in 2008, when her marriage began to deteriorate, her social life accelerated along with her use' of meth. She also began to smoke it, not realizing how detrimentally more potent it is in this form. Her addiction quickly grew out of control. In summer 2009, Michelle was arrested in the parking lot of a local store, while her children watched from the car. "This is when it all started to tumble down," says Michelle. Her children were taken away and she was sentenced to jail time. In jail all she thought about was how she was going to use when she got out, which she did the "ery first night. "I was still in the addict state of mind," says Michelle. But she wanted her kids back, so she attended the required Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and made a valiant attempt to quit meth. Then she did it -- she got her kids back! Two weeks back into her old life, overwhelmed with a houseful of kids again and a home left filthy by her ex- husband, she relapsed. She tested positive and was again sentenced to jail time. Again, her children were removed. "This relapse was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me," says Michelle. "If it hadn't been that bad, I wouldn't be where I'm at today." By this time she was suffering from severe chest pains and her hands hurt such that she couldn't hold a piece of paper. I)octors told her meth use had damaged her heart. She knew she had to make a real and permanent change. At first, her attitude was bitter She felt singled out, unfairly punished by the county and the court system. "You think you have it the worst. Then you hear all the stories at the NA meetings. You see so many people stmggting, some worse than you." A friend pointed out that the only one hurt by her an,ger was herself. That's when her attitude began to shift. She began embracing the services provided her. The more the drugs wore off', the more clear-headed she became. She began to feel a strong joy for life and for being with her kids. "Every- thimg looked different: I woke up and I grew up!" says Mtchelle. She became fierce in her determination to lead a new life. Though she lived several miles from the nearest NA meeting and didn't have a car, she could be seen walk- ing into town for her 7 p,m. meetings, through snow and blizzards, in the dark, with cars slushing her along the way. Michelle recently hit her 18 months clean mark. She cannot say enough about how much her family life has improved. "It's everything," she says. Once overwhelmed by the responsibilities Of motherhood, now she is over- whelmed with gratitude for getting to raise herkids. She no longer thinks about who can watch her kids while s he gets a break. Her focus is now about how to make her family life great for her and her kids. Michelle is now a spokes- person for services, working for the Family Resource Center in her community, where she helps others going through what she went through. She's a strong be- liever in how much those services work and loves sharing these resources with others. Michelle says the support she felt from her NA group and from counselors and social workers saved her life. She's especially grateful to the people who didn't see obstacles to her success, but instead saw her strengths and gave her encouragement. She is grateful to her Moun- tain Circle Family Services social worker, who gave one- on-one support through a grant aimed at promoting safe and stable families, sponsored by the Child Abuse Prevention Council. She's also grateful to her Child Protective Services social worker: "He was there for me every step of the way." And Michelle is very clear that she could not have done it without the unfailing support of her fiance and the network of friends she's found in her NA group. "When I used to get stressed, I would say, 'I need a bag (meaning drugs).' Now when I get stressed, I say, "I need a meeting." When asked what she would say to foster parents, Michelle said, with a tone of deep sincerity, "Thank you. Thank you fog taking care of my children the way I should have been." Her only regret is thfit the system isn't set up so that birth parents can remain with their children while also getting the support they need. She's seen too many birth parents, when they lose their kids, fall into a kind of de- spair. Then they go deeper into the party mode and grow more out Of touch with their role as parents. Michelle's concern is valid -- one that's being addressed by some child welfare agencies. As previously mentioned, Mountain Circle Family Services offers one-on-one intensive services to help birth families create a more successful home environ- ment. And, because the ulti- mate goal is always to create stability for children, Moun- tain Circle is always looking to recruit foster/resource parents willing to provide therapeutic support to birth families so that child and parent can reunite. When an openness and support exists between the birth family and the foster/resource family, the Outcome is ultimately better for the child. Michelle is all for keeping this openness. She feels enor- mous support from the foster families that have helped with her children. One foster morn recently came to her daughter's birthday party and they're planning to invite another foster parent to her son's upcoming party. "It's all about the kids," says Michelle. "You know how the 12-step meetings ask you to call on a 'higher power' and they tell you it can be anything that works for you? In my case, my higher power was my love for my children. I did it all for my kids." If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or is in need of family ser- vices, contact Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center (PCIRC) at 283-5515. If you've ever wanted to help a struggling family and are interested in becoming a therapeutic resource family, contact Mary Barry at Mountain Circle Family Services Inc. at 284-7007. District's students stand up for schools WHERE I STAND sports, and like most boys ........................... = ........................ sports are one of my favorite CHRISTIAN BERES FRESHMAN, GREENVILLE JUNIOR- SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL Glenn Harris, the superin- tendent of Plumas Unified School District, and his administrative cabinet, have made a proposal to close my things to do. Just imagine what my day' would look like during foot- ball season. I wake up to catch the bus to Chester at 5 a.m., go to school all day, and then practice after school. Pract!ce untflT;.39 p.m., and high school When rn Com: ...... thensomeh0w get home munity heard about this in January, it turned everyone,s world upside down. Now it seems like nobody knows what is going to happen next, and I feel like my goals might be jeopardized. If this does happen, the only other schools that I would be able to go to are Chester and Quincy. Both of these towns are about half an hour away, and my parents can't give me a ride, so I would have to take the bus. Every morning I would have to wake up earlier than normal and go to sleep earlier as well. This would leave me with no time during the week to do chores or around 8 p:m. Then I have to eat dinner and try to do my best on my homework to keep up my 4.0 average, leaving all of my chores to my family. Something will have to give, and I know my future will suffer for it. Being the son of a teacher, the decisions,made by the school district have effects on my family that are different than everyone else's. My step-mom might not have a job for next year, and there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen to us if she doesn't have a job. We might have to move next year, which is a terrible option because I have lived in Indian Valley most of my life and it is all I know. The most important goal I have right now is to become the valedictorian of my class so that I have a betteroppor- tunity to be accepted to c ollege. I want to go to the Air Force Academy after gradu- ating, and they onl accept 1,500 students a year. Having to move would really set me back, making this goal even more difficult to reach. Making new friends and trying to fit in is another !thing. Without a school there really isn't anything in ,Greenville. There are no big office buildings or a theatre to watch movies in, and that is why the whole town shows up to watch us play football. Closing the school would see an end to the town and all of those families would have to leave. Just because we are the smallest town in Plumas or Chester. I Closing Greenville Junior- Senior High School is just not right. ! financial stability. It is extremely hard thinking that the people who are our mentors, friends and even our family may not be here WHERE [ STAND guiding us through our high .................................. ................................... school years. ANNIE SYLVESTER JUNIOR, C HESTER' JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL i AS we approach the end of the school year, getting closer and closer every day, a sense of excitement is always there. Graduation, jobs and our beautiful backyard, we think about the fun parts of summer, and the exciting new school year ahead of us. But this year, there is a weight on the shoulders of everyone at Chester High School. The majority of our teachers were pink-slipped, and it breaks our hearts. As a student, I can say that I see it in the faces of the teachers how stressful it is being County doesn't mean that our unsure of their jobs for the children aren't as valuable as upcoming school year, and by those from Quincy, Portola extension, their families and Each and every,teacher at this high school has made a difference in a student's life ..... somehow, and I am afraid to see what willhappen in the future if we lose any one of them. All of the staff work hard to make sure the students that come through the doors of CHS have as good of an experience as possible, and if even just one of them is gone, it will never be the same. Knowing the current status of our district, and what each school is having to deal with, it changes nothing about the love and respect we have and always will have for our teachers and staff, and how hard we will fight for them. We will fight for them,as they do for us. To all teachers and staff at our beloved Chester High School, thank you for always being there for us, listening to us and guiding us through some of the most difficult chapters in our lives; we couldn't do anything without your help! We love you all. 'WHERE I STAND ASHLEY ARTERBURN JUNIOR, PORTOLA HIGH SCHOOL The 2012-13 school year will be my senior year in high school, and, at the moment, I am utterly terrified that it is going to be a very different year from the current one. At this moment there is a strict 25 student limit on all classes. At this moment the teachers at Portola High School all have close bonds with their students. But that is all going to change. Next year, the district has elected to enact a new universal class size, and that See Schools, page 8B LETTERS to the EDITOR Turn around The rumor has it, that Sen. Feinstein won't run again, and Jerry Brown will appoint Nancy Pelosi in her place! We have a leadership and moral crisis in this nation. Reason and logic seem to have disappeared. Are we going to do some- thing about changing Sacra- mento and Washington, D.C.? Come to Candidates Night on Friday, May 4, 6 p.m. at the Memorial Hall in Chester. We all need to turn this state and country around. Fay Almost Chester l.avid Today I put my checks in the mail to the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board. I certainly hope I paid my "fair share." When my husband passed away over two years ago, after a long, incurable illness, my income was cut in half, and my taxes more than doubled. When I could no ionger care for him, his care cost $90,000 a year. Fortunately, we had taken out long-term care insurance that helped a little to pay for his care. We used our savings and did not expect the government to help- it did not. When I read now that just one agency in the govern- ment has spent millions of taxpayer dollars for lavish vacations and bonuses, I am livid. When I see that the first family has taken 12 or more vacations in three and a half years, on the taxpayer's dime, I wonder if this same clueless bunch will be back for four more years, costing another $5 trillion of debt. When I see that many cities in California face bankruptcy, and voters send three million- aire Democrat women from San Francisco to Washington and they help pass laws that we all must obey and exempt themselves, I wonder if haft of the voters in the country are really that stupid. By the way, these are my thoughts and words and hae nothing to do with Fox News as some letter Writers have suggested. Patricia Burke Lake Almanor Game on To Mr. Michael Jackson: Your personal attack against me in your April 11 letter'to the editor was quite surpris- ing, since we've never met. Your bullying tactics of trying to intimidate, humili- ate and belittle me, even implying the world would be better off without me, would have gotten you suspended had they been said on the playground! But let's just say that clairvoyance isn't your strong suit. Your time would have been better spent and readers more enlightened (although perhaps not so well enter- tained) had you factually rebutted my arguments against Agenda 21. Nevertheless, you prove that personal attacks are non-productive. They do not educate, inform or debate an issue, etc. They only-vent frustration and anger, play- ing on others' emotions rather than providing valid info/'mation. As an attorney, you know at trial you can't simply make accusations against sonieone, rant and rave about their character, then blithely send her off to the gallows. You must support your alle- gations with evidence to prove guilt beyond reason- able doubt. Such proof is required in a court of law, so I contend, in the interests of justice and reason, it must also apply in the court of public opinion. So, don your attorney's hat and let's put Agenda 21 on trial, since it should be the real topic of discussion. You provide evidence of its bene- fits and defend its constitu- tionality. I'll take the opposing side. You already believe I'm igno- rant of the Constitution, so this should be a piece of cake for you. Each of us must cite our sources so readers can further investigate our hypotheses. They can follow the discus- sion, check our references and form educated opinions, instead of mereiy reading the unfounded accusations of a bully harassing someone with whom he disagrees. Game on? See you in "court"! Lynn Desjardin Portola Out of his mind In response to an article on Belden music festivals last week, Portola resident Larry Douglas stuck his nose in business he knows nothing about. His comment, "To let one man (Smith) try to stop the survival of this county is hor- rid." If the county's survival depends on income from the Belden events were all doomed. Larry Douglas must think all the partiers that go to these events (most from the Bay Area) come into Quincy first and waltz down Main Street, spending pocketfuls of cash, then go back down to Belden. He's out of his mind. They have one thing in mind, party, not shopping. Quincy merchants don't see a penny. I'll tell you what is horrid. To allow someone like Larry Douglas to even run his mouth at the meeting when he knows nothing of the subject. What's his creden- tials: A recalled city council member, a failed candidate for supervisor, obviously someone with too much time on his hands judging from all the meaningless letters he writes. Hopefully, the new District 2 supervisor will be more involved in these events. The one we have now (Meacher) has been totally useless. And his public servant days are numbered. That's a good thing. Darrel Smith Belden Military man First, I want to introduce myself before you decide on your important vote at the next election in June of this year. I am close to 89 years old and am a retired veteri- narian in Red Bluff. My father, Andrew Steven Giambroni, was born in Johnsville in Plumas County on June 14, 1880, and worked on the Bates Ranch as a young man. When WWII was declared, I was drafted and served in the U.S. Army for three years. During that time, I spent five weeks fight- ing in the Battle of the Bulge and was wounded shortly after arriving in Germany. I fought under General Patton of the U.S. 3rd Army and was assigned to the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division. During the war, I fought in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. In 1945, I was mustered out as a combat infantry sergeant. Frankly, I have very little trust in our politicians. Many have forgotten what it means to put America first and to serve the people. The only federal people I honestly trust these days are our military. Retired Col. Pete Stiglich, a veteran of the United States Air Force, is one of those people I trust. See Letters, page 8B