I may have been born in Petaluma, but I was raised at Koinonia.

My name is Laura and I would like to tell you a little bit about my life. I was born in Petaluma California to a pretty normal family. I lived with my mom, dad, and older sister who I never really got along with.

I went to school at my local elementary and had many friends at a young age. But for some reason, as I got older, maybe fifth and sixth grade the girls started to not like me and even bully me a little bit. From what I learned in my human development class this semester, that this is not good for a young girl’s social development. I moved on to middle school where I had so many choices of friends, the school I went to was four times as big as my elementary school.

This is where I started to make bad decisions and that starts with the people I chose to be around. Has anyone ever told you “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” I have heard that one a couple of times. I met a girl and we hangout every day, I did everything that she tried. At this point in my life I was only about 11 or 12 years old. I would ask my parents to let me stay out later so that I could smoke and drink with my friends. From here the bad choices just seemed to stack on top of each other until at 17, I got in trouble with the law and ended up in juvenile hall and was then sent to Koinonia, what a blessing.

In my eyes Koinonia is where I was raised. I learned the simple things like doing daily chores and communicating with my peers in a respectful way. I think one of the big things that I learned was patience. I remember the first time I went to church with Koinonia, I was crying, and I knew something was going to change. From then on, I worked a hard program and started to make realizations. Like…oh that is why I did that or that is why I get mad when people do that. I love my Koinonia family!  One thing I miss the most about Koinonia is the family dinners. I don’t have those anymore. All the girls got on my nerves at one point or another, but we all had a strange love for one another that you couldn’t get anywhere else but Konionia.

While at Koinonia I graduated high school and became resident leader. One of the biggest things that helped me at Koinonia was the staff. The continuous support with everything from ‘one on ones’ to ‘phase work’ to I just need someone to talk to. Many staff have helped me with my recovery, and they are such an important piece of the puzzle.

As I was getting ready to leave Koinonia I was nervous and excited. I moved into a transitional living home for girls called the Taylor House. I suddenly felt the rush of real-life responsibilities. I had to make my own doctors’ appointments and learn how to do things that make me happy. I started CrossFit which has helped me overcome the stress of school and work. Soon after I left Koinonia I got my driver’s license and bought a car!

I have graduated from Sierra College and have moved to Arizona to attend school to become a Registered Nurse. School can be stressful, but I always need to keep reminding myself of the end result.

Koinonia is a place where you can change your life and that is what I decided to do. I took all the tools and life lessons I learned and applied them to my life today. One thing that I think has helped me a lot with staying clean is not going home. I love my family but where I grew up is a toxic place for me. I cannot be around those people nor do I want to be. I have big plans for my life, and they are not in them.

One day I want to have a family and raise my family to be happy healthy people who do not need to go through what I did.