Mary Bowlin figured she wanted to be a child protection worker right around the time she "had a bad experience with a child protection worker," she said during my visit to Century College on Thursday. "I was living with my mom and then my mom died and my sisters kicked me out. They told child protection I was being irresponsible because I was. I was doing crack. My life got more and more depressing and then my kids got taken away by child protection and it was a nightmare," she said, adding it took five years to get one back.
She stopped drinking, stopped doing crack and she realized there was money available to go to college when a friend of hers told her he was buying cars with financial aid money. "I was just looking for a job and I was doing banquet serving forever. With the economy and stuff, it just goes down, down, down. But you only get $10 an hour , you only get 4 hours and you have to drive out to Plymouth. It's not worth it."
The idea of going into human services popped up at her daughter's 9th grade career fair. She says she'd be good at it because she knows what it's like from the other side. "One thing I would do is having empathy for the people. If they're drinking, I'd tell them to go to AA every day. Don't cut them down. Don't degrade them," she said.
The poor economy and the foreclosure crisis could help her, she figures. The house she's living in is in foreclosure, so she's trying to buy a house. She interested in a duplex that available for $35,000 and she thinks a tenant could help pay the mortgage and her way through college.
When she's not at school, she often talks to women in recovery groups.