At age 14, my parents got divorced. They were both drinking and fighting a lot. I started hanging with the wrong crowd. I started cutting school, cutting classes and began to smoke cigarettes. Eventually, while doing drugs and drinking – I went out, stayed out late. I basically stopped going to school. I got pregnant.
My plan is to reunite with all five of my kids. It’s going to be hard because the two oldest are 14 and 16 and I have been out of their life the whole time. I’m not sure if they know about me, but I did try to attempt to get a hold of them before I went to [prison]. I told them I was their mom and they didn’t reply back. So I just left it as it was because I didn’t want to push it, you know, until they’re ready to come forward.
What really is bothering me is that, you know, they’re in… their teenage life. And when I started my life was in my teens, when I was 14. And, all I’m thinking about is what if they’re going through what I went through. I want to be able to be there for them, you know, if they are…help them early before it gets worse.
They referred me to this program through Goodwill Hawaii (Honolulu), where I met John, my job counselor. He helped me with my resume and with a cover letter. He helped me to search for jobs. He always had good things to say. It sits with me and it gave me the motivation; you know, it pushed me.
When I finally got another job interview with Seattle’s [Best Coffee] and I got hired, I was so excited. I was like, “Oh my God, yes!” Then a week after, I got a call from Cheesecake [Factory] and then my third interview, the lady is like, “Welcome.”
At Seattle’s Best Coffee, I am a barista. I do basically everything that needs to be done. My boss moved me up, gave me a little raise and I have more responsibility there.
My future plan, after I do get paroled and get my own place, is to eventually go back to school, get my GED, and hopefully look into college and see what I want to do.
View Tina and John discussing her story here.