Their Stories: Maria Solis

At age 52, I am the oldest SFI graduate. I have two children, 29 and 25, who both are still living with me. My son has one child, who lives with his mother. My daughter has two children who live with us. I came to the United States 30 years ago with full legal papers and was grateful to find new opportunities to build my life here. As my children grew, I found myself just giving in to everything they wanted and trying to keep peace rather than being the mother they really needed.

I came to MSH in late 2013 in the midst of a personal crisis. I had fractured two vertebrae in my neck and was unable to work. My children were grown and I felt useless and was in constant pain. The entire experience plunged me into a deep depression and all I was able to do was lay on the couch, totally unable to function. After nine months, I was close to giving up and couldn’t figure out why I should go on.

One day I was at the Harbor House for a food distribution day sponsored by the Anaheim Harbor Family Resource Center. I heard about My Safe Harbor and a friend encouraged me to come back with her for Mother’s Club. I got involved in the Wednesday morning group and I quickly found a new home. People cared about me. They encouraged me to work on my physical therapy and to get up off that couch! I didn’t trust anyone at the time, but slowly I not only made new friends, but I began to see that life was not over – there was still much to do. I started going to Electives, stopped being so afraid of people and new things, and decided to put that couch in the trash!

I kept hearing that I needed to get out of my comfort zone and was getting to know more graduates of the Strong Families Institute. Even though I was very intimidated by the idea, I decided to give SFI a chance. It didn’t take long for me to believe I was important and that God was not finished with me yet. For the first time in my life I asked, “Who am I?  What do I want?” I found friends who wanted to know me, were glad to see me, and wanted the best for me. I learned to take care of myself and to believe that I could be in charge in my home. I found new communication and problem-solving skills and I started to make changes. My kids haven’t been too thrilled, because the changes are affecting them. New rules, new limits, new expectations…new me!

I don’t have the words to express myself, but I know that my life will never be the same. I’ve learned it’s never too late to dream and to change. I’m praying that my daughter will choose SFI one of these days and that the hope will continue to grow for my family, especially my grandchildren. I am determined to help them become the people they were intended to be.

Most of the mothers at MSH are younger than me and I’m looking forward to investing my life in them. MSH has helped me believe that I can make a difference not only in my own life, but in others. I found hope and now I can help others find hope, too.