After Krysta graduated high school, she took a few college classes but admittedly had no focus. She says, “I went to school, but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t take it seriously because I didn’t have a future goal.” She was living with her father, who was also supporting her financially, so she had little responsibility.
Because she had no focus, she began a slide down a slippery slope. She began to party with friends and lead a lifestyle she now calls “self-destructive and disastrous.” Although her father continued to support her, the relationship between them became strained. Recognizing this situation, her siblings severed ties with her and advised their father to stop indulging her. They saw how she was using him and other people and felt she did not care about anyone but herself.
In July of 2005, when Krysta was 22 years old, she had her son D’Angelo. Now that she had a child, someone else she had to take care of, she knew she had to get her life in order. However, she felt she had done a lot of damage, and she was not sure if she could repair it. To start, she and D’Angelo entered a housing program. D’Angelo’s father was not in the picture, as he went to jail when D’Angelo was three months old. The housing program, though, was not what Krysta wanted, and she told them she planned to move.
Then, the case manager from HEARTH called this other program to refer a client, and the case manager there told us about Krysta! Krysta and D’Angelo moved into Benedictine Place in November of 2006. She chose to enroll in the Paralegal Associate of Science Program at the Community College of Allegheny County. She says, “I had no clue as to how the legal system worked, but it was something I always wanted to learn. I thought the paralegal program sounded interesting.”
In the Benedictine Place program, she worked on several different areas of her life. First, she worked on becoming self-reliant, which included her learning how to budget her money. She never had to be responsible for herself because she knew her father would never turn his back on her; he would always support her financially and open his home to her, no matter how much this negatively impacted his own life. She wanted to learn how to rely on herself and break her habit of seeking help from her father.
Second, she worked on parenting and being the head of the household. Being a single parent, she has all the responsibility of caring for her son. It was difficult, though, for her to balance her time between being a mom, going to school, and taking care of her apartment. However, in the “real world,” these were things she would have to do, so she needed to gain some skills in these areas.
Third, she worked on her attitude towards and relationships with others. She stopped “using” people and began offering her help, including to other program participants. She learned how to maintain healthy relationships with people and interact like a “normal” person. She did become friends with several women in the program and remains friends with them today. As for her siblings, when they saw her stop relying on her father, they began a relationship with her again.
At CCAC, she enjoyed learning and did very well in her program, making the Dean’s List every semester. She graduated in May of 2008 with degrees in both General Studies and Paralegal. She was hired full-time in a downtown law firm in August of 2008, a happy ending in which HEARTH played a part. One of the lawyers spoke to the Benedictine Place program participants about wills and providing for custody of children, and, at the time, Krysta was looking for an externship and gave him her resume.
Krysta and D’Angelo now live in an apartment in the West View area. When she looks back on her experience at Benedictine Place, she says, “HEARTH provided guidance and a cushion, but I had to learn to be responsible for myself and how to make appropriate choices for my future. I am thankful for my experience there.”