At 34, Renee had been married for six years and was running the store operations for a local dressmaker on Kauai. Then the unexpected happened. She was thrown from the back of a truck into a barbed wire fence while trying to round up cattle on a ranch. Half of the skin on her face was ripped off and it took her two years to get back to 95% of normal functioning. Renee went back to work as she slowly recovered, but a year after the accident, Hurricane Iniki wiped out the island of Kauai and Renee immediately lost her job. By then she had two small daughters to take care of and did not know what to do. The trauma of the hurricane added to the effects of the accident, which triggered a bad emotional state and she was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance. Renee’s life just seemed to get worse. The following year, her mother died, and so did her horse, who was a very dear companion.
Just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, her marriage of 17 years came to an end. Falling deeper into depression, Renee began drinking heavily. After the divorce was finalized, Renee was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol twice in one month. She moved with her daughters to Oahu to receive treatment for alcoholism. A few months later, she was convicted of her third drunk driving offense and received five years of probation.
After moving to Las Vegas, where she was able to stay sober for three years, Renee started drinking again. She was charged with a fourth DUI, which violated her parole in Hawaii. She was sentenced to one year in prison in Las Vegas. After that year, Renee was sent back to Hawaii where her probation was revoked and she was sentenced to five years in prison.
Renee finally began to evaluate her life, and enrolled in classes at Windward Community College. In 2002, while still in prison, Renee was introduced to Goodwill’s Island Career Center. She was scared of going back to work, but Goodwill helped her transition from living in prison to regaining her life and place in society. Renee was offered the first two jobs she applied for and began working part time while going to school.
In December 2002 Renee was allowed to live outside of prison under certain conditions. In 2003 she made parole and then began working full time as she continued her education. Renee graduated from the Goodwill’s Island Career Center program, and was accepted into the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP).
Renee was released from parole in 2004 moved back Kauai to be with her family. The move enabled Renee to begin putting the pieces of her family back together again. She has been clean and sober since then, and is pursuing a new career in the field of health and wellness.
Rene learned that, “I don’t have to do everything by myself and it is okay to ask for help. It was hard to accept, but once I did, I realized that I can then turn around and help someone else. Goodwill’s staff and participants continue to provide an amazing support system for me. Not many people have a second chance at life like I did, and I’m working hard to make the most of this amazing opportunity at a new beginning.”