Nicole’s Story: How a U.P. program turned her life around


MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN)– One U.P. woman wants people to know that with some help, there is hope to turn your life around from addiction.

“I’ve changed a lot,” said West Ishpeming resident. “Even from last year. No one would even recognize me.”

Nicole lives with two of her children in a West Ishpeming apartment. Not that long ago she was homeless and living with a substance abuse disorder. She found help with Great Lakes Recovery Centers and Harbor House, but when it came time to find a place to live and take care of her children, Nicole was connected to Lutheran Social Services.

“It was a mess,” said Nicole. “I was so scared. I was pregnant. I didn’t have a house to live in. I was fighting to get my son back without this program I would still be homeless or wouldn’t know what to do. I already stayed my three months at the Harbor House. I don’t know what I would do without this program.”

Nicole spends a lot of time with Kim Frost, the case manager for the Welcome Home Program for Lutheran Social Services.

“We are a rapid rehousing program so we work with homeless individuals who are in imminent need of housing and we provide rental assistance, some utility assistance, intensive case management to hopefully take them from homelessness into stable housing in a relatively short amount of time,” said Frost.

Because Nicole doesn’t have a vehicle, Kim takes her to places she needs to go, helped her move into her apartment and supplied her necessities through the Welcome Program’s pantry and other household items.

“She’s just this amazing human who came from a really rough background and rough childhood and she has worked tremendously hard in this past year that I’ve been working with her to really just go in a positive direction,” said Frost.

Nicole is 13 months sober, has a roof over her head, clothes and food for herself and her children… and she only plans on going up from here.

“My hopes are that I want to one day become a peer recovery coach,” said Nicole. “Also, I want to work on getting my CADC to be a substance abuse counselor because my counselor at Great Lakes really inspired me to help people and people to go on the same journey that I have. Some people might not believe it like I can’t believe Nicky is here but I am.”

Nicole wants others to know, that people who judge her and people in similar situations, don’t see the whole picture.

“I have tried to get into every subsidized housing and I’ve been denied,” said Nicole. “We’ve appealed, been denied. I just really wish that they would really look into everything I’ve sent them and everything I’ve accomplished and not judge. I’m not that person on the record that you’ve seen. I have two children that I’m trying to give them a good life.”

Lutheran Social Services is one of 25 organizations that the United Way of Marquette County partners with to serve the community. Donated funds help provide items like food for the pantry and household items like what Nicole uses.

“I think it’s tremendous to meet the individuals and hear the different stories of without donations to United Way and the United Way giving back to the locals, there is a lot of residents that would be without food, clothing, shelter,” said Andrew Rickauer, Executive Director, United Way of Marquette County. “Some basic needs.”

The United Way’s annual campaign has been going on for about three weeks and so far has raised more than $30,000. The goal is to raise $400,000.

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