Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Hope for Casandra. Hope for Families.
When she landed in prison, Casandra said, “God found me right where I was and just how I was. I used to be a really mean person. But God has changed my heart. He's changed my life.”
Casandra knows He can change yours too.
Today, Casandra Fraser is a Peer Support Specialist for the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, part of the Tribal Opioid Response Project. She makes her home in El Reno with her three children ages 15, 14, and 10. Based on her experience, she knows parenting is a hard job. Casandra’s advice to mothers is,
“Love yourself and love others. Show yourself grace. everyone makes mistakes. Surround yourself with people who will support you. Be teachable.”
Those are lessons she learned the hard way. Lessons a person learns when she knows she is an alcoholic by age 10. Casandra grew up in her Weatherford home where domestic and sexual abuse were common. In addition to drinking with her mother, Casandra started smoking marijuana at age 12; using cocaine by age 13 and meth by age 14. Her brittle bones caused injuries that led to her medical prescription addiction. Regardless, she proudly tried to cover up the addictions that were consuming her life until her ten-year marriage, which had been tainted with domestic violence, ended in divorce. “It was then,” Casandra said, “I began to unravel. I didn’t care anymore about anything.” Her choices led to her incarceration on drug charges. “When I got out and got my kids back, I tried to get clean from my addictions. I couldn’t do it on my own. I felt overwhelmed and went back to my old lifestyle.” She described her journey with God, “I've always known of God, but I never had a relationship with him. I've tried all kinds of religion-- from bad medicine to witchcraft. But it wasn’t until about five years ago that I decided to pray. I reached a low point in my life. I was exhausted and angry. I was mad at God. Mad at everyone.
"I collapsed on my bedroom floor and cried out to God, ‘I don't even know who you are. Show me You. I can’t do this on my own.’ Even though I didn't really know how to pray, it was at that moment that I felt something bubbling up inside of me for the first time. That's when I began my journey to sobriety.”
From the depth of her pain, a new life started to unfold. Yet, it wasn’t a straight path to freedom. Cassandra struggled repeatedly with using drugs, stopping and starting again. Once again, she cried out to God, "Lord, I know I don't know you, but YOU know what I need, and you hear me right now.” She felt like going to prison would help her gain a start fresh again. And that’s exactly what happened. A police officer pulled her over because of a broken taillight. She knew God was guiding her as she realized the officer was a godly man. “He was a picture of Jesus.”
Because of a variety of outstanding warrants, Casandra was arrested. Regardless of being incarcerated, Casandra said, “God found me right where I was and just how I was. I used to be a really mean person, but God has changed my heart. He's changed my life.” During those months in prison, each day she started reading four Psalms and a Proverb. She was gathering knowledge and understanding. She read the Gospel of John. “The more I read, the more I wanted to understand. I had so many questions.”
At that point, Casandra met a friend whose strong faith helped strengthen her own. “She provided me accountability and helped me make better life choices.”
And yet, once again, it wasn’t a straight line to being the person she wanted to be. She failed, even in prison, and used meth. “But I just kept telling myself that I had to be better than I was yesterday and I told God that I could only do that by trusting in Him to provide. He keeps His promises.”
Casandra joined the class, Women in Transition, taught by Instructor Kathy Peacock. She asked Casandra where she would go when she got out. “That’s when I learned about Heather’s Hope. She thought it would be a good place for me to go when I was released.” God was continuing to guide Casandra’s steps.
“What I learned about myself and about God at Heather’s Hope was a vital part of my recovery. There I discovered who I was in His eyes. Pam Dobbins helped me with all of that. She helped me as I learned to deal with people, including my family, and heal relationships. While I was there for two years, I learned about boundaries and how to love myself. To build confidence as I waited for life change to happen. It was hard to know that I failed so many times as a mother, but I learned not to get caught up in the guilt and shame. I know life hurts sometimes. We don't have to be stuck in that system of ‘a product of my environment.’ That's what the enemy wants you to think. But with God, you have a choice to make a better life for yourself.” In addition to help she received while a part of Heather’s Hope, her church was a vital part of Casandra’s life change and success.
Casandra learned about the Peer Support job while she was in prison. “A friend told me it would be a great fit for me since I had begun helping people rise above their problems and addictions like I had. I was already enrolled in the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe. I felt like it was a calling from God to bring hope back to my people. To be a voice for them. I started the job in March and I’m loving it. I am called to teach and lead and minister. I am also now an ordained evangelist.”
Even though life looks much different now due to making wise choices, receiving help when it was needed, and doing what she had to do to make a better life for her children, she knows she continually needs prayer. “Please pray for my kids as they make adjustments and settle into our new family life in a new location. Pray for me to be strong and remain strong.”
"We want to build a community where every person has the opportunity to thrive."
Pam Dobbins, Executive Director, Christian Helping Hands/Heather's Hope
Here are some ways you can help make this vision a reality and make a lasting difference for people like Casandra. Find more information on our website.
1. Pray specifically and often for the people we serve. 2. Give -- Become a monthly donor. 3. Employ residents. 4. Donate materials. 5. Provide home furnishings. 6. Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates. 7. Be a volunteer. Complete the application. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED NOW: Men to help with labor and maintenance each Monday. Job opportunity: Men ages 55+, 20 hours per week. Contact: 580-439-5712, firstname.lastname@example.org
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