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Julie 'climbs her mountain' one step at a time, determined to make a better life

More than ten years ago, Julie Forslund lost custody of her three children due to her drug addiction. Today, clean and sober for almost a year, she is working to re-establish close relationships with them and her young grandchildren, and is motivated to make a better life for herself and her family. 

“I want to be there for my kids and grandkids,” said Julie. “Furthermore, I want to be a productive member of society instead of a hindrance. I realized this was a cycle I was going through and so I choose to strive, not for perfection, but for progress. I now have the drive to make things better.”

Julie had been living with her parents for three years as she worked hard to get back on her feet. “I loved living with my parents, but I was getting complacent and knew I had to start moving on,” she said. 

She was referred to Rise by Anoka County for mental health and housing support services and was able to move into one of Rise’s Transitional Housing apartments in April 2014.

She meets weekly with Rise Housing Practitioner Brenda Sorgdrager to address mental health and housing-related issues. Although Julie is eligible to live in the unit for up to two years, with Brenda’s help, she started applying for permanent, subsidized housing at their first meeting.

“Many landlords don’t want to rent to me because I have a criminal record so it’s going to be hard.” 

Julie also meets with a 12-step program sponsor once a week and attends a bible study. She is involved in a “celebrate recovery” group which meets for fun and support.

“All the support I receive helps me keep balanced,”  said Julie. “Brenda is one of the most supportive advocates I have. She is so helpful and, most importantly, believes in me.”

“I believe in Julie because her actions match her words,” Brenda said. “People are willing to stand behind her and give her the support she needs to ‘climb her mountain’ because she’s the one doing the hard work.”

As much as she enjoys her current job as a security guard, Julie would like to further her career by going back to school. 

“I would like to take my experiences and help others by becoming a counselor,” she added. “I think I could really make a difference. My middle daughter is studying to become a social worker and I think her drive to help others has come from the hard times we’ve gone through. I’m very proud of her.”

A seven-year cancer survivor, Julie also enjoys volunteering, especially at Feed My Starving Children and the Special Olympics, both of which she finds very fulfilling.

Despite her busy schedule, Julie is able to spend a lot of time with her four grandchildren. She loves being a grandma and is excited that she has another grandbaby on the way.  

“We lost a lot of years together, but I know my kids love me,” said Julie. 

Moving forward through life is a process, Julie acknowledges. “I’m taking baby steps, but I’m making progress!”

For more information about Rise’s mental health and housing support services in Anoka County, contact Becky at 763-792-2432; For Central and East Central Minnesota residents, contact Amy at 320-656-5608.