Success Stories

Personal Stories of Recovery


Tiara Triana Thrives Thanks to Client Wellness Fund

Tiara Triana’s typical day consists of a strict regimen.

After returning home from classes at the Fortis Institute, the 28-year-old mother greets her daughter, Elishia, 9, as she walks off the school bus. The two then grab a bite of dinner and bear down on homework.

By evening, the mother-daughter team, fortified and invigorated, departs for the Glenwood Park YMCA, a site that provides Tiara an emotional escape—filling a role similar to the one played by drugs and alcohol not long ago.

But she is in a better place now, one where she can swim with Elishia, take part in Zumba and aerobics classes, and conclude with a taxing yet ultimately rewarding treadmill workout.

“When you get on the treadmill and you put your earphones in, nothing else matters,” Tiara said. “You’re keeping busy, you’re sweating. By the time you finish, you’re tired but you know you’ve accomplished something.”

Tiara is one of dozens of people utilizing Stairways’ Client Wellness Fund, which supports individuals in their wellness initiatives by providing resources such as nutritional activities, new sneakers and fitness memberships.

Having dealt with weight issues for much of her life, Tiara at one point considered Lap-Band surgery, but decided instead to dedicate herself to diet and exercise thanks in part to the Y membership she acquired through the Client Wellness Fund.

 “I’ve been wanting to lose weight for a while and it’s something I’ve had to deal with most of my life,” she said. “The more I thought about it the more I thought ‘no I can do this myself.’”

For Tiara, as anyone, the word “wellness” implies so much more than physical fitness. While the 20 pounds she has burned off in the first three months as a Y member are a pleasant visual representation of her progress, it truly is just the surface.

“I can’t think of an area that I haven’t seen growth in her,” said Melissa Merriam, a Stairways Blended Case Manager with whom Tiara has teamed for nearly two years.

Tiara’s pursuit of wellness was borne out of a realization that she was not in control. Drugs and alcohol were determining the course of her life, and she couldn’t break its hold.

Growing up the daughter of alcoholics, Tiara was introduced to substance abuse at an early age. She started using marijuana, and by her teen years, was dealing. In 2007, she was arrested for distribution of cocaine, for which she eventually served more than two years.

While awaiting trial, Tiara used alcohol to cope with the pain of her impending prison sentence and the thought of being away from her daughter.

It was Elishia, however, who served as Tiara’s motivation to seek help for her addictions.

“The biggest thing was admitting that I was an alcoholic,” she said. “It hurt when my daughter would ask ‘Mommy, do you know what you did last night?’ And no, I didn’t.”

With the help of Merriam and SBH, Tiara has refocused herself toward a holistic sense of health she had previously never experienced.

She also maintains a backyard garden that provides fresh vegetables that further bolster her overall wellness. She is also in the process of addressing another issue she feels is critical to her well-being: her past.

Tiara plans to visit her father for the first time in seven years, a step she knows is vital in making peace with a troublesome chapter of her life.

“I’ve wanted to see him but I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to,” she said of her father, a fellow recovering cocaine addict with whom Tiara would get high. “(The idea) brought back a lot of bad memories but I know I have to forgive my parents to forgive myself.”

Someday, Tiara hopes to become a youth counselor—a role in which she can share the skills gained through first-hand experience with those straddling the same path she once did.

“All of the things I know now would’ve helped me then and I’d like to be able to share that,” she said.

Melissa interjects.

“If you wouldn’t have gone through that, though,” she says, “you wouldn’t have grown to where you are.”

For now, Tiara continues to strive for growth—one stride, stroke and repetition at a time each evening with Elishia.




"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S

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