At the end of 2008, Jessica was homeless. She was living out of a hotel, dealing with the trauma of losing one of her three month old twins to SIDS and having the other taken away by Child Protective Services. It was an impossible position that any parent would be horrified to find themselves in. Instead of succumbing to her situation, she decided to take action. She began working her hardest to regain custody of her child and needed to first find steady housing. She was referred to HRDC’s Harmony House, a transitional living program for homeless pregnant and parenting women ages 18-21, by LaVie Pregnancy Clinic. She entered the program in March 2009 and continued working toward her goal by taking advantage of the opportunities given to her by HRDC. She learned basic life skills like cooking and cleaning, and participated in other classes such as financial and parenting help, and started to realize she could succeed. She took a part time night job at Toys-R-Us and by April 2009, she was able to complete her initial goal of regaining custody of her daughter. “She was such an inspiration because she never got bitter but used every resource to better herself and regain custody of her child,” Terri, a case manager at Harmony House, observed. At that point, Jessica knew she could achieve so much more than she originally thought. “The biggest thing was support,” she said, “Having people there wanting me to succeed and not just standing there judging me made a huge difference.”

Jessica had completed a few years of college before she moved to Billings a few years prior, and she decided to go back to school at Montana State University – Billings while living at Harmony House in order to finish her bachelor’s degree. When she found out there was a college major that was dedicated to helping people, she decided to change her major to Human Services because she had been inspired by all of the help and support from the HRDC staff. Six months after becoming Harmony House’s first successful graduate, she went back and become the first successful intern the program had. She graduated from MSU-B in 2012 with her bachelor’s degree. She took a job at Gateway House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, as a domestic violence advocate. “I remember her telling me that she wanted to be able to give back to the community because she felt she had received so much support,” Terri recalled. During this time, Jessica met the man who would become her husband and she now has three beautiful daughters. In 2014, she was offered the position of Library Director of the Meagher County City Library and moved her family to White Sulphur Springs. She thrived in the job. Even though she had a family and full time employment, she decided to continue her education and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Ashford University.

When asked if she had any advice for current residents of Harmony House, Jessica replied “Embrace the support and take advantage of all the opportunities. If you take advantage of even half of it, you will be successful.”

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