My name is Jamie Taylor but most people at MELD know me as Jamie Simons. I lived at the MELD Shelter and Transitional Living from May 2010 until November 2010. Let me tell you a little about what got me there, what I did while I was there, but more importantly where I am today because of MELD.
When I was 17 I decided to leave home and move in with some of my older friends. I was not in a good place in my life. I suffered from bipolar disorder and drug addiction. I was seventeen and knew everything. I didn’t need anyone to tell me how to live. Well, that lifestyle and mindset quickly landed me in a treatment facility which is where I met the father of my first son. Upon leaving the facility we continued to see each other and abuse drugs.
I got pregnant in November of 2009. On December 18th, 2009, he was incarcerated and not scheduled to be released until June of 2015. I realized I need to change my life. I went back into a treatment center and decided this was the time I was really going to change. After 3 months in a drug treatment facility, I was moved to a psychiatric hospital so I could be properly medicated to treat my bipolar disorder. When they were ready to release me from there I had one problem. I had nowhere to go. My family wanted nothing to do with me, the friends I did have weren’t the type of people I wanted to be around any longer, and there was no way I could make it on my own. I began to call shelters.
As it turns out, when you are pregnant, not many shelters want to take you in. Then I called MELD. Kim answered the phone and I explained my situation. The stars must have been aligned just right that day because as it turns out, someone had just left and I had 24 hours to get there. Although my mom wouldn’t let me live with her, she gave me a ride to Rockford and I got to start the next chapter of my life.
While I was at MELD I learned a lot more about being independent. Sure, I had lived on my own for the last 2 years, but now I was on my own with a baby on the way. MELD helped me get a job through their employment program, made sure I got proper medical care and helped me get to my appointments, and provided the resources on how to be a successful parent. I was able to complete my GED while I was living in the MELD Shelter. That, to this day, is one of my greatest accomplishments.
While at MELD I got back relationships with my family and friends that I had lost throughout the years. One of those relationships was an ex-boyfriend of mine, Brandon. We ended up splitting up because I was making poor decisions and he didn’t want that kind of behavior in his life. On August 2nd, 2010, I gave birth to my son (DJ).
Fast forward a few months. My ex (Brandon) and I ended up getting back together. He treated my son as his own, and a short time (VERY SHORT) after I ended up pregnant again. Unlike most stories you hear like this now-a-days, Brandon stuck by my side. He got an apartment big enough for all of us, had my son and me move in with him. I was sad to leave MELD, but excited to start on this next chapter of my life. I could not be more grateful to MELD for allowing me to get here.
In December 2010, I moved in with my now husband. I was living closer to family, building back relationships with them, getting to spend quality time with my son being a stay at home mom, and I was the happiest I had been in a VERY long time. In June 2010, my (then boyfriend, now husband) got active duty orders for the Army and was to move to West Virginia in a month and a half. I was 7.5 months pregnant at the time. Once again, unlike most men in this situation, he called my parents and asked for their blessing to marry me. Five days later, we were in the DuPage county court house with 17 members of our family getting married. It was the ideal wedding, but it was perfect for us! We moved to Morgantown, West Virginia and I delivered our second son a week later.
Throughout the next year I made several trips back to Illinois to visit friends and family, and always made sure to come back to MELD. The women and men who work there have all made an amazing impact on my life and I am forever grateful for them. They helped my grow in ways I didn’t know possible and made me into the mother I am today. In May of 2012, my husband adopted my son DJ with the consent of his birth father. He has stepped up in every way possible and I am forever grateful. In July of 2012, my family and I moved to Germany for my husband’s military career. As of today, I have three amazing baby boys, aged 3, 2, and 2 months. I have an amazingly supportive husband who stands by me no matter what. I am the Family Readiness Group leader for my husband unit, I am a stay at home mom to my wonderful boys, and all of this was possible because MELD gave me a chance. I don’t know where I would be today without this wonderful program and the even more amazing staff.