In 2012, after nearly 16 years of cocaine use, Michelle found herself alone in a shelter in Colorado Springs. “For a couple of months I was clean and started thinking clearly and decided that I didn’t want to do drugs anymore,” Michelle said. She reached out for support by calling Andy, a man she had met in Texas, who also struggled with drugs and alcohol. Together, Michelle and Andy came to the decision to quit using drugs. Andy got a bus ticket from Texas to Colorado Springs to escape the familiar pressures of drug use. The two started the journey of cleaning themselves up together. Three months later, while still living in the shelter, Michelle and Andy decided to get married. Catholic Charities helped the newlyweds pay their first deposit so that they could rent an apartment together. Shortly after, the Pickneys were both working and self-sufficient.
Things seemed to be looking up until Michelle’s mother in Texas became ill. The couple returned to Texas to care for Michelle’s mother until she passed. Unfortunately, being back in Texas, struggling to find work, and the stress of dealing with family issues caused both Michelle and Andy to relapse. Michelle quickly pulled herself together, attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and staying off the streets. However, resisting the cocaine was more difficult for Andy. The Pickneys were struggling to keep their marriage strong and fought constantly with the influence of drugs and alcohol in their relationship. “I told him he had to quit doing drugs or we couldn’t be together,” Michelle remembers.
When Michelle finally turned off her phone to stop talking to Andy, she found out that Andy immediately checked into rehab. “I love her,” Andy stated firmly, “I’d follow her to the ends of the world. I love her that much.”
The couple realized that their strength together would keep them away from drugs and make them stronger to pursue a better life. In September 2014, Andy was released from rehab, Michelle picked him up, and they took a bus back to Colorado Springs. Michelle said, “We knew we could come here, get help, and get on our feet.”
The Pickneys stayed in the R.J. Montgomery Center when they first returned to Colorado Springs. They visited the Marian House Soup Kitchen and sought help from Catholic Charities’ Client Services program. Andy looked for work, and Michelle relied on Social Security income for disability due to major depression. They could not afford to rent an apartment. Once more, Catholic Charities provided help for the Pickneys with half of their deposit for an apartment.
“I don’t know that our relationship could have withstood what we were going through if it wasn’t for Catholic Charities helping us,” Michelle said. Soon, Andy found full-time work with a roofing company. Catholic Charities Community Outreach assisted the couple with furniture and even delivered it directly. Michelle also accessed help to get a new birth certificate. Now living in a furnished home with help from Catholic Charities, the Pickneys are excited to continue moving forward and becoming self-sufficient. They adopted a kitten, Mikey, to keep Michelle company while Andy is at work and to distract Michelle from her memories of drug use.“He keeps me busy,” Michelle says, “Now we’re officially a family altogether. All three of us.”
Michelle is researching Truck Driving School for Andy so that the two can travel and keep a good-paying job. Although Michelle and Andy regret some of the decisions they made in the past, they are excited to pursue their future with positivity.
“This is home for us now,” Michelle says, “We love Colorado. We love Catholic Charities.”