Her past will NOT define her future!

Stacey, a former guest, shared her testimony at our 2021 Sowing Seeds of Hope fundraiser. She is now a valued member of our Guest Services Support Team.

October 2021

Hello, everyone! My name is Stacey Forejt.

First, and foremost, I would like to thank you all for turning out to support such an amazing cause. I was, very recently, a resident at Mustard Seed Shelter and my children and I benefited greatly from this program. Today, I would like to tell you my story.

I was an abused and neglected child in my young years, which led to my first battle with homelessness as a youth. Living in the Upper Peninsula, I didn’t have many options for services and struggled to get on my feet. However, after a few years I was finally holding down a job, going to school full time, and maintaining some stability in my housing. At 16 years old, I met a much older man, who I ended up being with for nearly 12 years. He was abusive. He was manipulative. And he wouldn’t let me work or see my family members or friends. However, he allowed me to attend college, so I did. During this time, I completed my bachelor’s degree in sociology and became an award-winning undergraduate researcher in 2014. Following this, I went straight to graduate school to obtain my master’s degree in social work. After completing the program with honors, I decided to begin looking for work, no matter what he said; and that began the end of our “relationship.”

During all of my years of schooling, I also had two children with him – a girl and then a boy. Both of them were diagnosed by their second birthdays with autism spectrum disorders, so my life began to be so full of appointments and work in the child welfare field that I started to feel completely overwhelmed. And it was during my separation from my children’s father that I began to use methamphetamine and alcohol as coping mechanisms. My son had stopped sleeping at night, I was holding down a position with the Family Reunification Program on 24/7 on call and felt as if I must be alert at all times. During the day, I was a well-respected social worker and advocate and at night I was moving methamphetamine and using it, as well.

This series of poor decisions led me down a path of destruction that was so consuming. For almost four years I kept this lifestyle up, without getting caught or falling too hard. When I fell though, I really fell. I lost everything, including my home and all of our belongings. I came to Saginaw for treatment and found recovery. I learned how to be accountable for my own actions and take care of myself and my family. Following recovery, I was still not prepared to live on my own and sought out help from Mustard Seed.

The Mustard Seed became our home. My children and I needed the structure and support they provide for their residents. I gained further experience in personal routine maintenance, for myself and my children. I was surrounded by people of faith, who showed me how to have faith in myself. They challenged my negative thinking and behavior patterns, all while giving us nothing but love and respect. My children and I were able to make this transition in an absolutely beautiful home, with excellent support around us, physically, emotionally spiritually and financially.

Today, literally today, I am seven months clean and serene from all mind-altering substances and my two children and I have our own home. Not only did Mustard Seed provide us with a comfortable place to transition our life, but they also assisted my family in finding housing when we were ready; and never made us feel like we needed to hurry or that we were a burden. Now we have Shelter Plus through Mustard Seed and have our own three-bedroom home here in Saginaw. I am now a regular part-time volunteer at Mustard Seed and am giving back to the community that gave to me. I participate in Women’s Economic Empowerment classes, parenting classes and recovery groups on a weekly basis, alongside volunteering and parenting. I am determined to show the community around me that my past will not define my future!

Thank you for your time tonight.