A heroin addiction wasn’t the only thing Jenn Barnes gave up after she had completed the program at Mountain Manor Treatment Facility.
After leaving treatment in the fall of 2013, the Frederick native and mother of two young children returned to her hometown to live with her grandmother, where she found herself jobless, friendless — she shed most of her past friends and relationships when she got clean — and unsure of how to move forward.
The prospect of rebuilding her life, while caring for her toddler and newborn she’d given birth to while in treatment, was daunting. But a solution to at least one of those problems presented itself when Barnes heard about an organization offering free diapers.
She quickly enrolled in one of the 14 classes offered through Care Net Pregnancy Center of Frederick’s Earn While You Learn Program, which gives “boutique bucks” to participants in the classes, redeemable for donated child clothing and products that fill its boutique “store.”
Tweet This: #Maryland @CareNetFredMD helping moms get on their feet. @Nancy_Lavin228 @frednewspost
“Initially, I was like, ‘Yeah, free diapers,’” Barnes said. “That’s what got me in the door, but that’s not what kept me here.”
Instead, Barnes credited her continued participation in the classes and services provided by the North Market Street pregnancy center to the supportive community of staff and other clients. Barnes described them as a family, the group that offered her advice without judgement, that supported her when the father of her younger daughter died from addiction last fall, and that helped fill the void created after she gave up her old life.
“My situation ... doesn’t look all that great from the outside,” she said. “But the people that have helped me ... have showed me that the choices I’ve made and the mistakes I’ve made don’t define me. I define myself.”
Barnes said her definition is still being solidified, but she feels comfortable taking her time. She’s currently working at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., taking classes at Frederick Community College to pursue a general studies degree and attending weekly Care Net classes with fellow client and friend, Mackenzie Scott.
“She’s our other wife,” Scott joked of Barnes, whose children are watched by her and her husband when Barnes takes night classes or works.
Scott, an Adamstown resident with two children, became a Care Net client several years before meeting Barnes and referring her to the organization. Like Barnes, Scott named the judgement-free community as one of many ways she’s benefited from the organization.
And it is to Care Net that Scott credits the lasting image of her now-2-year-old son Bailey when in the womb. Scott explained how insurance issues made her unable to get an ultrasound when she was pregnant, until she found Care Net.
“It was the first place I saw my son,” she said.
Care Net also provides pregnancy tests, STI/STD testing, counseling for fathers and help for women seeking post-abortion support.
Tweet This: @CareNetFredMD was the first place I saw my son. #prolife #ultrasound
Although the organization emphasizes a faith-based teaching, clients of all religions and belief systems are welcomed.
“We serve everybody and anybody that comes through our door,” said Linda King, Care Net’s executive director.
Both Scott and Barnes named spiritual support as an additional way Care Net has helped them. Barnes recalled a recent health scare, in which program coordinator Andrea Maxey sat and prayed with her.
“I didn’t need anything monetary, just someone to talk to,” Barnes explained.
Barnes said that example — “walking the walk” — serves as motivation for her to be a similar support to other clients and those in need.
“I want to be able to give my experience, to help someone else,” she said.
“Unfortunately, I still need to be a client here, and I say unfortunately because clients can’t be volunteers,” she said. “But you better believe my children will volunteer here, to see where they got their start.”
The Care Net Pregnancy Center of Frederick will benefit from this year’s Unity Campaign, which was seeking to raise $250,000 for local charities that serve basic human needs and help at-risk youth.
The campaign started Sept. 23 and runs until Oct. 4.
Article published by The Frederick News-Post, originally appeared Oct. 4, 2015 online here. Republished with permission.