Cope Family Center helps Napa mom regain sobriety and her children

Napa Valley Register
Jennifer Huffman
March 15, 2019

Life hasn’t been easy for Isabel, a Napan and mother of five children under age 10.

Isabel, who is 37, has struggled with alcohol addiction. As a child, she endured trauma including sexual and other abuse. She also suffers from depression and anxiety.

At one point, after a fight with her husband, Isabel was arrested and charged with domestic battery. She had to move out of the family home temporarily, effectively becoming homeless. Child Protective Services got involved.

Photo credit: Napa Valley Register

Photo credit: Napa Valley Register

Because Isabel was willing to speak frankly about her addiction and past, the Register agreed not to use her real name for this story.

But today, Isabel has managed to overcome these significant challenges with the help of Cope Family Center of Napa.

Isabel is successfully parenting her children. She remains married. She enjoys writing and journaling. When her youngest child starts school, she hopes to start school herself, in hopes of becoming a cosmetologist.

If it wasn’t for Cope, none of that would have been possible, Isabel said.

Isabel said she first heard of Cope Family Center after having her third baby, a girl.

“I felt kind of depressed after having my daughter,” she said. “I was feeling down because I had no family around.” Isabel’s family lives in a county near the Oregon border.

Her husband was at work during the day, which left her at home alone with their children.

“I was scared,” she said. “I had my own car but I didn’t feel comfortable driving. I didn’t go out much.”

When in the hospital with her newborn, she saw a brochure about Cope’s Home Visiting Program.

That program helps parents take “baby steps towards building a loving, safe and healthy home for their children,” said the Cope website.

With this free program, parents work with their Family Support Provider during pregnancy and until age 5 or until the child enters kindergarten.

Together, they create goals that build upon the family’s strengths, promote parent-child connectedness and create self-sufficiency.

“It might help,” she recalled thinking.

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After connecting with Marti Brennan, a home visitor and parent educator at Cope, the two began to meet.

“At first I wasn’t too sure,” Isabel said. “I was nervous. I didn’t feel comfortable” talking to a stranger about such personal problems.

Brennan could tell. “She didn’t want to see me and I knew it,” said Brennan. Slowly, “she’s opened up to me. She trusts that I wouldn’t judge her.”

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. When she had to leave her house because of the CPS inquiry, “I felt suicidal,” said Isabel. “I didn’t know what the hell to do. I was going crazy.”

An alcoholic, Isabel said she’s relapsed twice.

“There was a lot going on” in her life during at the time, she said. “Drinking was my only coping mechanism.”

But Brennan, and Cope, were there for her, said Isabel.

“Marti always makes the time for me,” said Isabel. “That’s what makes her special.”

Over the next several years, Isabel and her family have been able to take advantage of a number of Cope programs.

She and her husband participated in a class called Triple P Parenting. They also joined Cope’s Healthy Relationships group.

“That helped a lot too,” said Isabel.

Isabel has been sober for four years now.

“I’m just proud of myself for getting this far,” she said.

Thanks to her work with Cope and its programs, Isabel “is able to be the mother she never had,” said Brennan.

If she hadn’t found Cope, Isabel’s story would be much different.

“I’d be out drinking,” she said. She wouldn’t be married.

Isabel still struggles with her sobriety.

“Whenever I think of drinking, the first person that comes to my mind is Marti.” She doesn’t want to disappoint her, said Isabel.

Cope “is the best place,” said Isabel. “I’m thankful.”