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Each year, at the annual weighing-in event for the Boys Town Iowa Healthy Families Drive, we ask someone who is receiving Boys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services to describe how their family has been impacted. Candace, a mother of two, nervously got up to share her story. These are her words…

"Good morning, folks. My name is Candace. I've taken a journey of many roads and different paths. During this journey, I've walked with Boys Town. 

In the beginning, I made a lot of different mistakes. I started out young, grew up in a home of a lot of domestic violence, a very ill mother. I walked that path going into Boys Town after my mother lost custody of me. I learned a lot of different things from Boys Town being a youth; it saved my life.

Once I got out of Boys Town, I went into nursing school. Unfortunately, I decided to get into a domestic violence relationship with a gentleman. At that time, I had a daughter – she was beautiful – from a previous relationship. I allowed her to be acceptable to very strong violence. And then I decided to use methamphetamines and alcohol. I put her a cycle through years of that. Then I got pregnant with my son. I stayed clean with my son for about a year and a half.

During that time, I decided to work overnights as a dancer, to provide for my son, instead of using outreach programs like this, Boys Town. During that cycle, I lost a brother to a cocaine overdose. Finding him myself, it brought me down to a worse, worse cycle, affected my entire life. So I became more suicidal during the violence I accepted myself; putting my kids through this, made me very ill. I wasn't respecting my children. I wasn't respecting myself. My nursing education went downhill extremely. I eventually kind of dropped out. My grades went downhill.

I attempted a suicide in January, which was… with my son in the home. The police removed my son, I was admitted to the hospital. After admitting to the hospital, I decided that I was gonna go to Iowa Family Works. Immediately went there. Once I went in the inpatient, which I still am at now and will graduate in two weeks, I met Boys Town. I met Rowan Taylor, one of the greatest people I've ever met in my entire life. She's brought me diapers. She's brought me wipes during this time where I struggled to be able to financially pay for that stuff myself while I was in treatment, trying to rebuild my strength, respect, overcome all the things that I had been through, while I'm trying to get sober.

I have now been sober for 135 days. I have now been reunited with my son for over 120 days. I see my daughter for the first time next week, in four months. That'll be on Mother's Day. I talk to her every day. She has accepted my forgiveness. We've built a beautiful bond. I've learned to build that bond from Boys Town. They have taught me a lot of skills on how to talk to her, how to work through the things that I've made mistakes with, how to speak to her, just simple stuff on answering the phone and asking her about school, a lot of different skills.

If it wasn't for Boys Town, there's a lot of different things I wouldn't know how to do. I really appreciate the program and everything. All I can really say is he ain't heavy, he's my brother. And Thank You, Boys Town."

Learn more about In-Home Family Services program and Boys Town Iowa.