BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Thousands of Tennessee women are spending Mother's Day working to overcome addiction, and a Blount County nonprofit is playing a role in that.
In some cases, that means mothers are separated from their children as they are placed in foster care or court-ordered changes of kinship. ReUnite Ministries in Louisville is a two-year-old nonprofit dedicated to pulling moms out of addiction and back into their family's arms.
It's a faith-based live-in counseling center with training, classes and mentoring. The day manager at ReUnite, Geraldine Estrada, has a personal connection with the women there.
"[I was there] 43 years ago, homeless, drug-addicted, and so worn out I wanted to die," Estrada said. "I was enslaved and it took an act of God to set me free from a lifestyle that was killing me."
She got help in a California ministry recovery center. Now, she's helping mothers who stand where she once did.
"I'm a spiritual mother, to help nurture and help grow these women into the women that they're called to be," Estrada said.
She helps women like Autumn LeFleur, who 10News spoke with in February 2020. Then, she was new into the program and had lost custody of her four children.
Now, she's packing boxes and ready to graduate from the program on Saturday. She has also secured a new job and an apartment.
The ReUnite staff said there will always be a safety net under her. She's ready to embrace her family and spend the holiday with them.
"What a joyous Mother's Day because it shows that this program works, and we are delighted," said Lori Keesey, a volunteer with the organization.
Program Manager Tionna Green said the messages during every second at ReUnite focus on faith and love.
"We need ministries like this, we need homes, like what ReUnite is because our families are dying. They're being destroyed," Green said. "I don't know anyone that has not been affected by it in one way or another."
Green admits that it is amazing to watch the transformation process right before her own eyes.
"There are no words to describe them getting those moments where they're understanding that they're valued, that they're loved, that they're not in their past," Green said.
It serves all mothers in the East Tennessee Smoky Mountain region who want to escape from addiction and embrace their kids.
Their goal is to change lives, one mom at a time.
The nonprofit is supported solely by donations. You can donate by visiting ReUnite's website.
Applications are open for women in addiction who want to apply. Keesey said the facility is able to hold six women at a time right now.