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“It’s great to be positively helping someone”

March 15, 2013

When Lisa Crow first heard about Parent Partners, she knew it was perfect for her.

“I thought, ‘Well, this is a message from God,” she said. “It’s great to be positively helping someone.”

She can remember when she wasn’t always in a position to do so.

“I had been doing meth for a few years when my dad died,” she said. “I got into it more, and then my mom died, at which point I started selling.”

She recalls her arrest for dealing meth, the raiding of her house, the prison time.

“I’ve blocked it out over the years,” she said. “I just don’t think about it much because it was so overwhelming.”

Her situation meant a change of home for her four kids, two of whom eventually went to live with their dad and the others with her brother.

She had nowhere to go but up.

“In prison, I decided to change my life and take whatever I could out of this experience,” Lisa said. “I came from a really good home with really great brothers and sisters, and I came out of prison wanting to be a drug counselor specifically for women who were moms.”

She earned her GED in prison. Though her probation officer pushed her to go back to school, she never believed she would get into college.

“I started at Hawkeye Community College, and then got a Carver scholarship to UNI,” she said. “I was so nervous. I didn’t know anything about computers.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree in family services, where in one of her social work classes someone told her about Parent Partners.

Parent Partners is a unique mentoring program, an approach that matches parents who have first-hand experience with their children being removed from their care, and have made changes in their lives, with parents who are currently involved in the child welfare system.

The ultimate goal is to help stabilize the home, reduce re-abuse and support parents in making the changes needed to have their children return home.

“Parent Partners become trusted mentors in the lives of the parents they support,” said Jan Pratt, LSI care coordinator. “Lisa is a great Parent Partner, and it’s amazing how she has turned her life around to do immense good for someone else.”

Lisa knows how to mentor other moms because she’s been in their shoes.

“I can relate, especially to drug issues,” she said. “I’m straight with them. I’m honest and open. Most have walked away from drugs. Sometimes it’s too late for reunification, and I have to remind them that someday their kids may come back. You can keep becoming the better person.”

And she knows what it’s like to love your child, no matter how chaotic your life can get.

“Most addicts love their kids, too,” she said. “Some feel it doesn’t affect their family if they don’t use drugs in front of them. But when they get it, they realize they can choose instead to be a role model for their own children. It’s very rewarding to see that.”

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