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Sarah: Taking the next right step

March 13, 2023

“Coming [to Pallet] was the next right step for me. I’ve never had benefits. I’ve never been eligible for a 401K. It makes me proud of myself.”

The first thing Sarah noticed when she came to Pallet was how happy everyone looked. “I was waiting to interview, and I noticed everyone that was coming in seemed to be happy,” she recalls.  “They had a smile. They made eye contact and said hello. I was like: $#%@ people are really happy to be here!” 

After her interview, she was told she got the job and Sarah started as a manufacturing specialist in September ’22. It was the next step on her path to focusing on herself and her recovery.  

Growing up in the Everett, Washington area, Sarah’s childhood was tumultuous. “I didn’t feel safe as a child,” she says. “You pick just about anything, name it, and it happened to me as a child.” She experienced sexual abuse, homelessness and witnessed her parents’ domestic violence growing up.  

Sarah was also in the foster system for a while before her grandmother took her in. “Things didn’t work out there,” she explains. “I was just lashing out.” She’d skip school and was eventually expelled. She went to live with the parents of her then boyfriend. The two would later marry. 

This would be the first of two long-term relationships for Sarah. “I used to be really afraid of being alone and not being in a relationship,” she says. “I had two very long-term relationships—10 years each with my kids’ dads. I have now come to realize I don’t need a man to complete me.” 

When her first marriage ended, Sarah, who had dedicated a decade to her children and husband, didn’t know how to process the breakup. “I found myself feeling lost,” Sarah says. “I didn’t know how to process my feelings in a healthy way, so I ended up using drugs. I emulated the behavior I grew up watching my whole life.”  

Eventually her situation improved, which is when she met her second husband. She had two more girls, but her life became rocky again as she experienced major health issues after her fourth daughter was born. She was also dealing with the death of her brother and marital problems that eventually led to divorce. To deal with her losses, she coped in the only way she knew at the time. “I got lost in methamphetamine–numbing myself to make it go away,” she says. 

By 2019, Sarah had been in and out of the criminal legal system, lost her house and was homeless. Her life continued to be turbulent until she decided in late 2020 that she needed to get treatment, or she was “going to die.” She adds, “as a parent you’d do anything for your kids. You’d kill for your kids; you’d die for your kids. I had to decide to live for my kids.” 

Her first attempt to stay sober wasn’t successful. But then she decided to stay with a childhood friend and enrolled in an intensive outpatient program. She also contacted another friend who had gotten sober through the sheriff’s program. “I called him, and he gave me the numbers of some social workers,” Sarah says. “I called one and within five minutes, I had a sheriff pick me up. That’s the first time I’d been in the back of a sheriff’s car without handcuffs on.” 

Focused on her sobriety, Sarah got housing at a women’s house in North Everett where she has since become the live-in manager. (“I help by leading and being an example for the women in my house,” Sarah notes.)  She also started a part-time job at a cleaning business with a woman in her program. “I just needed something part time to have money,” she says. “My job at the time was working on my recovery, clearing my head and getting that first year under my belt because that’s the hardest.” 

Then her friend Jennifer, who worked at Pallet and was the women’s house live-in manager at the time, encouraged Sarah to apply for a full-time position. Being a Fair Chance Employer is essential to Pallet’s success and helps us empower people like Sarah who can process and problem-solve with compassion, sensitivity, and creativity.   

At first, Sarah wasn’t ready, but after a while she decided it was time. “Coming [to Pallet] was the next right step for me,” she says. “I’ve never had benefits. I’ve never been eligible for a 401K. It makes me proud of myself.” 

Sarah is learning how to deal with stress and not let her self-worth be wrapped up in those around her. “I just focus on what I can do today and not future trip,” she says. “I know I’m going to get there. I see the light at the end of the tunnel now.” 

Pallet is a certified Living Wage Employer

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