“This is the stuff that I should have been doing when I got out of high school. And now this is my second chance at doing the things that I wanted to do back then,” said Destinie Robinson, Allen Family Scholarship recipient and Volunteers of America Mid-States (VOA) Freedom House graduate. 

On April 23rd of 2022 Manchester native, Destinie Robinson stood in front of VOA’s Freedom House – the recovery program that gave her a second chance at a life free from substance use – and accepted the Allen Family scholarship. The scholarship was started by the family of James Allen after his passing in October of 2021. 

As a teacher at Clay County High School, James was passionate about education and removing barriers so anyone who wanted to pursue higher learning could do so. James was also a strong supporter of Volunteers of America’s Freedom House program and the second chances it gives to individuals overcoming substance use disorder. The Allen Family Scholarship carries on his legacy and Freedom House graduate, Destinie was the first recipient. 

“It warmed my heart because he was a great man and he was all about helping others,” Destinie said. As a former student of Mr. Allen, Destinie was honored to accept the scholarship and committed to using it to start a new hopeful life for herself and her four-year-old son, Carter. 

Throughout her teenage years, substance use disorder controlled Destinie’s life and her education fell by the wayside. After overcoming substance use disorder and graduating Freedom House in 2021, going back to school was the next step for Destinie to continue her recovery journey and accomplish the goals she set for herself before her struggle with addiction began. “It was great to know what I was capable of and what I could be taught,” she said. 

In the summer of 2022, Destinie started her first semester at Eastern Kentucky University. She immediately took a liking to her Psychology class. “It helped me understand myself more and why we think the way we do,” she said. Destinie learned more about substance use disorder while taking the class and decided to start working toward a Social Work Degree so she can help other individuals find recovery like the Freedom House team helped her. 

“The social workers that I had were a blessing to me,” Destinie said. “Me coming to Freedom House with my kid, and them offering it, changed my whole mindset about social workers.” Social workers helped Destinie escape an abusive relationship and start her path to recovery at Freedom House. Becoming a Social Worker will give Destinie the opportunity to provide support to others struggling and show them, recovery is possible. 

Today Destinie is celebrating a successful second semester and a new career opportunity. In November of 2022, Destinie was offered a job as an Alumni Coordinator at VOA’s Freedom House helping to gather data for a study sponsored by Humana and an anonymous private donor. Project Strong is a longitudinal study of the recovery program’s outcomes. While continuing her education, Destinie will help others overcome substance use disorder and be a part of their journey to long-term recovery. 

“My goals in life today, and in the future, are to help as many addicts as I can find recovery, share my experience, my strength and to give them what was so freely given to me – hope,” Destinie said.

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