Rachel Minion is a familiar face around the COTS’ offices. Her welcoming, helpful, and empathetic nature along with her fun personality and infectious smile make her an incredible asset to the team and a joy to work with. Recently, this ambitious and caring mother graciously sat down with us to talk about the role COTS has played in her life and the lessons she has learned from her experiences.
Tell our readers a little bit about your backstory.
Rachel: My mother died during my birth. I was raised by a loving grandmother, but despite that, I experienced a challenging childhood and was surrounded by alcoholism. I began drinking at an early age. By 2014, I had been drinking for fifteen years and there wasn’t a day that went by that I was sober. During that time, I was actively raising my children, but they didn’t know a sober me.
What brought you to COTS?
Rachel: We lost our housing, and all our belongings were removed from our home by the bailiff. I was working with a therapist who learned of our situation and connected my family to COTS
Upon coming to COTS, what was going through your mind?
Rachel: My kids and I had been sleeping outside for a week. We had not bathed and I was concerned about how we smelled and how people might treat us. But when we arrived, the staff hugged us and sat with us to support us through our intake. That was the most genuine thing to me. It wasn’t about how we looked or smelled, but that it was about their desire to help us and walk us through getting back on our feet.
What are some of the most life-changing events that have happened since connecting with COTS?
Rachel: So much has happened! Being connected to a rehab facility that received my kids and me was life changing. I didn’t have the greatest experience at this facility. Those 30 days however changed my life and set me up to process the value of COTS services and receive the expanded help that COTS was willing to offer. Upon returning to the shelter, I was so grateful that I wanted to give back and share what I could with the organization. I didn’t have anything financial to give so I gave my hands and began to volunteer in the clothing room.
Another life-changing event was receiving coaching through COTS Passport to Self-Sufficiency. It helped me to see and feel things in a different light. When I would see things as negative, my coaches helped me to find the positives in every situation.
Since coming to COTS in 2014, I completed rehab and remained sober, eliminated barriers to become a licensed driver, and I received employment with COTS where I have become part of a team that values my gifts. Most recently, I graduated in 2021 with my GED. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to experience a graduation ceremony at that time, but on June 17, 2022, I wore my cap and gown and was able to celebrate that accomplishment with my COTS family.
Congratulations on your accomplishments! What are you doing now?
Rachel: My time at COTS has helped me to become a better parent and create a better structure for my family. I take all that I have learned and am sharing it with my children. My daughter, Cherish, graduated high school this year with honors. My son, Torian, will graduate next year. My daughter Sarah serves on the leadership committee at her school and is an honors student. All my children are doing well and have bright futures ahead of them.
I am COTS Development Partnership Liaison and I work with volunteers who wish to help families by sharing their time and talents to create impact. I also engage with families partnered with COTS as a peer mentor to encourage and inspire through my own experiences.
Next year, I will graduate with my associate degree from WCCCD and will be continuing my education to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work.
I am focused on building generational blessings for my family instead of living in survival mode.
Connecting with COTS has helped me to thrive.
Do you have any advice for other people who need help?
Rachel: f you need help, don’t let pride get in the way. If you’re struggling with addiction, don’t let embarrassment prevent you from seeking the help that you need. There are people here to help and there are people like me who have been in your shoes. Look at my results.
Why should people donate to COTS?
Rachel: Being a family supported by COTS, to serving as a volunteer, and now supporting the volunteerism program as staff has helped me to understand the impact that donors have on the progression of families. We can’t do this without your continuous support and partnership