GILBERT, W.Va. – When you look at Arlene Helvey at church with her kids on Sunday morning, you see a different Arlene than most people saw two years ago.
People see an outgoing woman who is on fire for God.
What most of the congregation hasn’t seen was the woman from before, the woman who escaped three abusive relationships, the woman who was introduced to drugs by the father of her children, a woman who had her kids taken from her, not once, but twice.
Arlene will gladly tell her story to anyone who will listen.
A typical teenager raised in a strict Christian home, Arlene attended Williamson High School where she graduated with a 3.5 GPA and received a full scholarship to Pikeville College (now University of Pikeville).
She went to college for two semesters. After dropping out she moved in with her boyfriend and his family.
At 20 years old she was taking care of his two kids from a previous relationship and was starting down a path that almost ended in self destruction.
A combination of her living arrangements, working 12 to 14 hours a day and being a mother she began to use drugs to help her function on a daily basis.
Her boyfriend at the time, who is also the father of her two children, introduced her to drugs.
First it was painkillers, then she added nerve pills to the mix, at that point she started to spiral out of control.
Over the next 10 years she would be arrested, lose custody of her children and spend time in drug rehab.
Arlene said, “I am so grateful to my sister, for taking my children and treating them as her own.”
“I would hate to think it what could’ve happened to them, if she hadn’t stepped up and did something she didn’t have to do.” “She had her own children she was raising and I know it was hard on her,” Helvey added.
After being hospitalized for 11 days due to taking a seizure, which was triggered by her drug use and an additional 11 days at a crisis center.
Arlene realized she was in dire need of help and the only person that could help her was God.
She was sent from the crisis center in Logan, W.Va. to Crossroads a woman’s rehab facility in Gilbert,W.Va.
After months of rehab, she was able to retain custody of her children and get her life back on track.
Another person Arlene is grateful to is her mother. “My mom never left me, she was there through it all, no matter how bad I treated her, no matter what I said to her, no matter how much I tried to push her away. She never left.”
She is enrolled for classes at Southern West Virginia Community College for the fall semester and is going to pursue a degree in counselling.
Kendra Mahon is a reporter with the Gilbert Times. She can be reached at [email protected] or 304-664-8225.