MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All season long, WCCO is shining a light on Minnesota groups that could use your help to make the holiday brighter. The series is called “Trees of Hope.”

This week our set is decked out in navy and gold to support Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. MnTC is a nonprofit which helps people overcome drug and alcohol addiction. The group is currently serving some 600 adults and some teens ages 14-18.

A woman named Jody, who did not want to share her last name, says MnTC has helped her tremendously in the four months she has spent in a long-term treatment program in Minneapolis.

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“It’s hard to face the things that you’ve done, but also sometimes the things that have been done to you,” Jody said.

At 42, Jody is finally facing everything she has been through at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

“I wake up in the morning and I’m just happy not to be incarcerated and that I was given a second chance,” Jody said.

MnTC’s Director of Counseling Thom Olson says what makes this 13-month-long treatment program impactful is the focus on getting to the route of what is leading to the addiction, and for those who want it, a faith-based approach to healing and living productive, purposeful lives.

“They’ve burnt bridges with their families and other treatment centers,” Olson said. “Sometimes judges will say this is your last chance before prison its teen challenge or prison.”

Jody says this program has been the hardest thing she has ever had to do; even harder than the 15 years she spent in and out of prison. She says prison almost became routine for her after a while.

“You don’t have to work on anything, or don’t have to deal with anything,” Jody said.

Growing up in group homes, Jody says she was always looking for love in the wrong places. At 18, she met a man who would become her boyfriend for several years — she knows now that wasn’t love.

“In May of 1995 I was almost murdered, assaulted with a hammer 13 times, choked with a belt, and suffocated with plastic bag,” Jody said. “I was basically left for dead, neighbors heard my screams and called police.”

After that, Jody’s drug addiction got worse. She stole and did whatever it took to get drugs for years.

She was about to go to prison, again, when the opportunity to go to MnTC came up.

“In the last four months, I have done more healing and learned more than I have in prison or in any psychiatrists office,” Jody said. “When you take a look back on people you’ve hurt that you don’t even know, the lives you’ve affected, it’s very hard.”

Jody is facing it all for the first time and learning about true love at MnTC.

“I have been loved beyond what I ever thought I could be,” Jody said

She is hoping to eventually work for MnTC, bringing hope to other women in the prison system.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s bright,” she said.

There are short-term licensed programs, and longer faith-based programs offered to a broad spectrum of individuals. MnTC offers dramatically reduced prices for patients and relies on private donations, according to Olson.

It costs about $1,500 per patient per month to keep the program going.

If you’d like to help, head to WCCO’s Accomplish MN page.

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