Fresh clothes give a fresh start | Popgen Tech


Sometimes a fresh start can change everything.

For Cheyenne Hershey, this new beginning included going to prison, entering a sober living program, and making dreams come true.

Hershey spent 20 years of her life addicted to heroin. Her addiction was not apparent, allowing her to raise a family, obtain her nursing license, and work as a successful small business owner without knowing about her struggles.

“I was a very successful person. Always been a drug addict. No one knew, you know, no one had a clue, and I loved that because then you can live in your addiction and no one will know,” Hershey said.

Hershey’s time as a drug addict didn’t last forever. For two years, she lived on the streets of Kansas City, homeless and with an addiction that wouldn’t go away.

That all changed in 2019, when Hershey was arrested for drug possession.

After she was pulled over, Hershey said the officer asked if she had any drugs. He said if she turned over any drugs she had, nothing would happen and she wouldn’t go to jail, Hershey said.

“So I gave him my drugs and I ended up going to jail,” Hershey said with a laugh. “So it doesn’t always pay to be honest. But at the same time, it was my crime and I served my time.”

Rather than return to Kansas City after serving her 11-month sentence, Hershey decided to come to Jefferson City. She said she chose this city because she wanted to go to a place where she didn’t know anyone, and because of the House of Healing and New Beginnings.

Healing House provides housing, recovery programs and life skills classes for women with substance abuse problems.

Now living in a new city, Hershey needed a job. However, having just been released from prison, she only had a small box of belongings, with no clothes among them.

This is where dreams come true.

“They arranged for you and Jaime (Waltz, the executive director of Dreams to Reality) to come here and have an image consultant help you get a whole wardrobe full of clothes,” Hershey said.

Hershey got an outfit for her interview, a week’s worth of clothes for her new job, and a fun outfit to celebrate her job placement.

“I feel like I got more than that. It’s not just clothes, it’s wallet, it’s jewelry, it’s shoes to go with every outfit. They just make you feel beautiful, you know?” Hershey said. “They just take you in there and make you feel great.”

She said she initially interviewed for any job, but ended up at the counter at Marks Mobile Glass. With a business-casual dress code, Hershey said she still wears everything she got from dreams to reality.

Hershey said Waltz was a huge source of support in her life.

“She’s a good fan. She is always a Healing House fan, period. She always tries to get involved and help us,” Hershey said.

Other sources of support for Hershey were Heather Gick, Healing House’s “fearless leader,” and the Peterson family.

While Hershey was in prison, she said she became best friends with a girl named Peterson, whose parents live outside of Fulton. Hershey said the Petersons are amazing people who love her like family.

The Petersons actually gave Hershey a trailer to live in just a quarter mile from their house. When Hershey is done with the House of Healing next February, the trailer will be her new home.

“We’re in the process of remodeling, so you know I need furniture and everything you’d need for a house because I don’t have it, but I’m working on it slowly, slowly but surely,” Hershey said. .

Hershey said top of her Christmas wish list this year is a bed frame and other items for her home to make it a nice place for her children and grandchildren to visit.

“Other than that, really, God has given me everything I need. I’ve got clothes, I’ve got a car, I’ve got a job,” Hershey said. “Everything will work out when it needs to.”

Hershey has a 17-year-old daughter who lives with her father in Trenton, and a 20-year-old son with a child of his own. She said she has a great relationship with her children and sees them as often as she can.

“I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, but at the same time, it’s for good reasons, because you know, I’m using this year of my life to correct myself, to make sure that I’m always a gift for them.” .

Hershey said she plans to continue being involved with Healing House as a supervisor when she is done with the program.

“I will be teaching a few classes on Tuesday evenings; i’ll probably still take the monday night class. And just in whatever capacity Heather and God see fit for me,” Hershey said.

She also said she plans to start Celebrate Recovery in Fulton since the city doesn’t currently have one. “Celebrate Recovery” is an AA/NA religious program that focuses on spiritual awakening, Hershey said.

“I couldn’t do what I do every day without Jesus in my life. This is just my personal opinion, some people don’t feel the same way and that’s okay too. That’s why they have AA and AN meetings, you know, but for someone who wants something that’s more like a spiritual healing meeting, that’s what it would be,” Hershey said.

Hershey had two pieces of advice: for people who are going through the same struggles as her, and for people who are not addicted.

“Don’t judge someone in their pursuit of happiness because it looks different for everyone,” Hershey said. “It’s not the same for everyone. Just have love when it comes down to it.”

She said that people who are lost in life come in all colors, looks and shapes. When people look at her, she says, it’s hard for them to see her as a heroin addict. For others, people may assume they’re on drugs when they’ve actually been sober for years, she said.

In any case, Hershey said, each person’s pursuit of happiness looks different, whether someone is falling and getting back up for the fifth time or the first time.

To people struggling like hers, Hershey said, “Stop making excuses for yourself.” Hershey said she was 100 percent homeless, living in a tent in Kansas City as a heroin addict when she was arrested.

“The night I was arrested was the best night of my life. I thought, God, I don’t have to do this anymore. The reason it got this far is because I made excuses for myself,” Hershey said.

She said there are barriers to getting help, such as having an ID. She said getting an ID when you’re homeless can be nearly impossible because there’s a “vicious cycle” between needing an ID to get an address and needing an address to get ID.

Hershey said she hopes to one day do something about the problem. In the meantime, she said, while it seems almost impossible, it’s not impossible.

“If you want it bad enough, if you don’t want to be like this anymore, you will literally do anything. I moved to a town where I don’t know anyone and built a life for myself. It’s beautiful,” Hershey said. “And yes, I was helped a lot along the way. I was helped by Jamie, Healing House, a few organizations helped me, but really I had to work, and if you’re not willing to go out and work, it’s not going to work for you.”

Hershey said if anyone has questions about getting out like she did, they can find her on Facebook.

“I will be your friend,” she said. “I’ll help you on your way.”

photo Photo by Julie Smith/News Tribune: Cheyenne Hershey is excited to speak on behalf of United Way partner agency Dreams to Reality as she appreciates the nonprofit agency’s encouragement and continued support. Hershey is working to rebuild his life after being a homeless heroin addict in Kansas City. After her incarceration, she attended The Healing House for further growth and guidance, now works full-time and will soon be moving into her own accommodation.

In the accompanying video at, Cheyenne Hershey talks about how making dreams come true helped her start over after she got out of prison and moved to Jefferson City.

IRS Form 990 at provides financial information about this nonprofit.

Other features of this series:

The Christmas Wishes series highlights the good of society

Christmas wish: Little Explorers offers mothers a stable schedule, reliable childcare

Christmas wish: Matt Barris is managing and thriving at Capitol Projects

How to donate

United Way is creating a “Christmas Wishes” fund, and donors can make a gift “on behalf of” someone specific or a United Way partner agency.

To be tax-deductible, checks must be made payable to United Way of Central Missouri, and United Way must reserve the right to determine specifically who the donation will go to.

A volunteer committee will oversee the distribution of these funds. If you’d like to help make a Christmas wish come true in Midsouria, send checks to United Way of Central Missouri, 205 Alameda Drive, Jefferson City, Mo., 65109. “News Tribune Christmas Wish Fund” should be written on the memo line of the check.

Questions may be directed to Ann Bax, president of United Way of Central Missouri, at 573-636-4100 or [email protected].


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