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Natalie- A Persistent Mother in Chicago

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Natalie’s arrest record began at 14 years old after an altercation at school that she describes as an effort to protect a loved one. As Natalie’s aged, she found herself having even more run-ins with the juvenile system, finding herself with a total of 4 arrests and 4 counts of battery and use of deadly weapon by age 17. That same year, Natalie’s life took a different turn when she discovered she was pregnant with a baby girl. For the first few months Natalie hid her pregnancy from her mother, scheduling her time in or out of the house around her mother’s schedule. She says, “I knew she would disapprove. She didn’t want me with the guy I was dating because he was in his late 20s and I was 17. I thought she would make me get rid of the child or physically hurt me until I lost it.”
The pregnancy caused Natalie to drop out of school and run away to her boyfriend’s apartment. However, when she got there, her boyfriend gave her the ultimatum: sell illicit drugs or live on the streets. One morning 2 year later, the police arrived and forcefully entered the front door of their apartment. Natalie’s partner was arrested and sentenced to multiple years in prison. Natalie was never charged or arrested, but her daughter was removed from her care and put in the custody of Natalie’s Mother.
After moving in with her partner’s family, Natalie discovered that his two brothers had recently enrolled in the Right Turn program. During one of their Right Turn home visits, Natalie inquired about the program to a Case Manager. The Case Manager worked with her to complete the eligibility process- the first steps in joining the program. When Natalie’s background qualified for the program, the same Case Manager began working with her immediately.
Upon officially enrolling in Right Turn at Lawrence Hall at age 19, Natalie’s primary goal was to obtain employment in order to earn returned custody of her daughter. Natalie’s Case Manager immediately started working with her to find employment in the food industry so she could have a work schedule conducive to concurrently going to school. During this time her Right Turn Case Manager assisted with learning more about SMART goals and together they developed a long-term, multi-step plan called an Individualized Career Development Plan. Her Case Manager also assisted in searching for jobs, completing applications, interview readiness skills and even transportation to interviews. 
After two months of job searching, Natalie became discouraged, returned to the streets for income. This time around she became involved in sex trafficking and drugs. During this time, Natalie’s case manager did not stop helping her look for employment. Natalie became unwilling to complete an application, fearing the rejection she received from many applications before. Still, her case manager continued to work with Right Turn’s employment specialist to find her work. 4 months later, Natalie landed employment at a newly opened Chipotle. The manager there gave her the flexibility she needed to return to school and meet her other Right Turn goal of earning her high school diploma. With the advocacy and support of her Manager, Natalie is enrolled into an alternative school and is scheduled to earn her high school diploma in December 2018.
Natalie has discovered an interest in Culinary Arts and ultimately hopes to become an Executive Chef or Sous Chef.  She strives to obtain employment in a restaurant where she can cook, gain experience, and work her way up to a management role. Natalie continues to work to maintain her academics and employment as well as regain custody of her child with the help and dedication of her Right Turn Program community!

For more information about Lawrence Hall, click here.