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Lacey is thriving not surviving

October 27, 2022

Lacey shown from the waist up standing next to Pallet bathrooms that are being constructed.
Lacey is a member of the Deployment Team.

Lacey has a smile that lights up the room. Her positive outlook is contagious, and she's a joy to be around. Lacey joined the Pallet team as a Manufacturing Specialist at the beginning of the year. In this role, Lacey moved from station to station in the factory to build the shelter panels. She enjoys working with her hands, so it's been a good fit.  

"I loved putting the windows in. That was really fun. I did a lot of roofs.," she shared." I love working in production." 

Within a few months, she went from manufacturing shelters at our headquarters to joining the deployment team, a dedicated group of staff who specialize in on-site shelter construction. Lacey has set up Pallet shelter villages across the U.S., from Sacramento, CA, to Burlington, VT.  

"When I first started here, I heard about the deployment team, and I was just like, that seems like it just sounds like a dream job to be able to travel around. I'm a really hard worker," she explained. "I love the fast pace of deployments. I love running back and forth doing that stuff. I'm just excited." 

In addition to being enthusiastic about being on the team, Lacey is thankful to be working alongside others with similar backgrounds. It was uncomfortable for her to disclose she had felony convictions to an employer in the past. She shares one of her experiences, "I had an interview, and the lady was just looking at me just crazy the whole time. I felt extremely judged. It was awful."  

Lacey’s interview experience was different at Pallet because we're a Fair Chance employer. We believe in people's potential, not their past. More than half of Pallet staff are in recovery, have experienced homelessness, and/or have been impacted by the justice system.  

"To be around a bunch of people that have been where I've been and are striving to go where I want to go — it's a good environment," she added.  

Next month Lacey will celebrate being in recovery for two years. A tattoo on her forearm that says "thriving, not surviving" reflects how far she's come. Her substance use disorder began with a back injury she received at work when she was 19. A doctor prescribed her OxyContin. She used it to alleviate her pain for several years, but Lacey says the opioid shouldn't have been the treatment. Later, she had two laser treatments which technically negated the need for OxyContin. 

"I had no idea that it was synthetic heroin. I had no idea that opioids were so powerful. Then they were like, 'Okay, it's time to get off of it,'" she explained. "It was everywhere. Everybody that I knew was doing it. Everybody was just smoking these pills, and so I just started."  

She continued to work, but maintaining a full-time job became increasingly difficult. She moved onto other substances, and her life began to unravel. She had to quit her job, lost the home she bought a few years earlier, and had been arrested several times. She lived in a car and tried to survive. These were stressful times for Lacey that lasted many years, but after undergoing detox five times, and three rehab stints, Lacey was ready to make a change.

"You're not done until you're done, you know what I mean? You can go through the process over and over," she shared. "You can be forced to go to rehab, you can be forced to do whatever, and it does not matter." 

Two years ago, Lacey was ready to stop using substances partly because a milestone birthday was approaching, and she wanted to live a different life. One where she had a stable place to live, employment, and no longer using substances. 

After serving a sentence in county jail, Lacey moved into an Oxford House, which is recovery housing. Initially, Lacey wanted to live independently, but the peer-supported environment was a perfect fit. They share expenses, hold weekly meetings, and support one another. As part of recovery, Lacey attends Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and tells her story to others. She can also spend time with her family, who live nearby.  

After many years of tumult, Lacey is focused on leading a quality life. Pallet is proud to be a part of her journey. She exemplifies why diversified hiring practices are vital to our success. Lacey brings compassion and optimism to the team. 

"Pallet is a place where you're welcomed with open arms. It's really freeing to be able to walk in here and be around a bunch of administrative people — who most likely have not been where I've been — and not be judged," she said. "I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to work and be able to gain my self-worth. I know what it was like to just give up on life basically." 

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