(Memphis) Cassandra Morris is the first to admit her life has had its peaks.
“I graduated third in my class. I was an international exchange student, Miss. BTW (Booker T. Washington High School), Honor Society,” Morris said.
Her life has had its valleys when she lived in public housing infested with murders and drugs.
“I indulged in a lot of different things like cocaine, and cocaine proceeded to crack.”
Cassandra was raised by her grandparents because she was abandoned by an alcoholic mother and an absent father.
“I wanted my own mother and father. I don’t know why my mom decided to give me to my grandparents.”
She married when she was only 19, becoming a minister’s wife, but the marriage didn’t last.
“November of ’03 we divorced after seven years, and 30 days later, he died.”
Her life started to crumble with the death of her ex-husband and she eventually lost custody of their child.
“I feel at some point I should have been able to go back to get him, but I didn’t…He’s 16.”
Cassandra turned back to her old ways of using marijuana and crack cocaine, exposing her children and even her newborn to her drug use.
“I get home and I get this call and they (the hospital) say, ‘Hey, the baby tested positive for cocaine and you know we’re going to have to take the baby.'”
Months later, she still faced obstacles with the Department of Children’s Services, but there was a small glimmer of hope that she might one day be given a second chance with her baby.
“When the supervisor of DCS says she would go in and recommend that Josiah be recommended for physical custody to me, that was hope.”
That ‘hope’ meant it was finally time for a change.
She sought help through the Salvation Army’s Renewal Place program, which offers transitional housing for chemically-addicted women and their children.
It’s already having a positive affect on both Cassandra and her son.
“I’m able to give Joshia his life and give it to him in abundance, not a drug-addicted mother.”
Renewal Place is helping Cassandra become a better parent for all four of her children and work towards a life of sobriety and it’s renewed her faith in God and herself, thanks to the Salvation Army.
“I am a changed person today and I am yet changing.”
“You feel renewed because of Renewal Place?” I asked. ”
I feel renewed because of Renewal Place,” she replied.