Twenty Seven year old Cecilia Stetson’s association with the Center for Sharing dates back to when she, her parents, and three siblings were residents at the Vista Hermosa community in Prescott, WA. Her parents worked at Broetje Orchards. She recalls a turbulent childhood having witnessed her father physically abusing her mother. She was only 3 years old when her parents decided to part ways. Her mother then enrolled herself into the domestic violence program for a year and upon her return decided to go back and live with her husband.  Shortly after, they relocated to Tennessee. Things however did not change as her father continued to abuse her mother. Added to these woes, her mother dedicated most of her time to her 3 siblings, with behavioral issues who needed constant guidance and support.

Cecilia said that she felt neglected and was always told that nobody loved her and that she was going to die a loner. She grew up trying to kill her desires and feelings so the pain did not hurt so badly. People thought that she would probably be dead by age 21. At the age of 14 she had her first major relationship. She met this young man at a church she attended with her mother. Although she developed a deep relationship with her faith during this time, she was vulnerable and so believed everything that her boyfriend told her in regards to giving her a life that she had never seen before.

She gave up school, her family and moved in with him. It was not too long before her boyfriend started to ill-treat her and even beat her. She recalls that her boyfriend’s father told him that “women need to be trained like animals to keep them in their place”. She was kept under house arrest. One day, on the pretext of meeting her mother, he let her out. Her mother advised her to go with her to Pasco WA. So they did. She was 18 years old and wanted to go back to school. That is when she approached the Center for Sharing in 2009-10. CFS welcomed her warmly and helped her realize that she was not alone-that she was loved and cared for. They helped her get back to school and not too long after she successfully graduated.

She came back to the CFS in 2012 and was offered her a job as a receptionist with bookkeeper training. She said that changed her life. She started looking at things more positively. She recalled Adrianna, then café manager, who was like a big sister that supported her immensely and helped her in her recovery. She left the CFS in 2014 when she married and moved away.

Earlier this year Cecilia encountered some new challenges in her personal life. She reached out to CFS again. Once again, CFS welcomed her and held her hands before she fell. She has been working at the Collegium Café for close to two months as a Barista. She has met new people like Rachel and Abraham, who have been so supportive. Although Rachel is the café manager now, she has been like a big sister to her, has visited her almost every day after work to check on her and has continued to encourage her to look at life from a new perspective. Today Cecilia is still in a recovery process but says that she is willing to fight for her life, as she knows that she has people who love her and are there for her. That is what keeps her going.

Cecilia’s story is about perseverance and teaches us that our wellbeing is directly related to feeling connected with God, self, and others in community. Her childhood and most of her life has been turbulent. Yet, every time she needed support, she approached CFS, which always welcomed her. Cecilia now looks at life as a blessing that she is fortunate to experience. She still has a long way to go but is willing to go the distance-she knows that she is not alone.


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