Molly Shaeffer’s heart sank as she looked down at her phone to see it was her husband
calling again for the third time that day. She said she knew if she picked up the call he would assault her with a torrent of verbal abuse – making her feel small and incapable of making it on her own without him.
This day, however, was a bit different than all of the other days in their 22-year marriage that she said she endured emotional abuse. It was in January 2010, and she had just begun her class at the New Choices Career Development Program. Despite his harassment, she persevered and began taking steps to realize a dream she had since she was 11 years old.
“I think back to those days, and I can still feel the anxiety and pain,” Molly said taking a deep breath. “I was in a dark place, but I don’t ever want to forget it because it reminds me of how strong I am and how far I have come.”
Molly had left her husband in 2009 and went to live in a shelter for battered spouses. It was a counselor at Domestic Violence Services that recommended she enroll into New Choices. Molly wasn’t sure what to expect from the class, but she committed to the program while working two jobs and living in her new apartment.
She remembered the first week of the program and how confused and overwhelmed she felt.
“Things around me were whirling out of control,” Molly said. “I was trying to figure out how I was going to afford my apartment and a divorce lawyer. And here I am in New Choices, and they’re telling me I could be independent and even go back to school. I was like, really?
“I guess deep down inside I believed I could do it because here I am,” Molly said.
By the second week of New Choices, Molly began to feel stronger. The support she received from the instructors kept her going and she recalls that for the first time in a long time she didn’t feel so alone anymore. With her confidence soaring, Molly gathered the courage to sing a song for the class at their graduation.
Six months after graduating from New Choices, Molly honored her childhood dream of being a nurse by enrolling in HACC and then nursing school. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in June of this year.
“I have always wanted to be a nurse, but my husband squashed every dream I had,” Molly said. “To be able to do this for myself and to have a career I find so incredibly rewarding, it’s amazing.”
Molly works at Lancaster General Health in the Mental Health Unit – a job she sees as her true calling.
“I didn’t know I was going to love working in mental health – but I do love it!” Molly said. “When I started clinical rotations I would cry and question whether I should be in nursing school. But when I began doing an externship for four weeks on the mental health unit it felt like a natural fit for me.
“Suddenly, I didn’t feel like crying or questioning my decision to be a nurse. It was like I was destined to be a mental health nurse.”
Molly said she is grateful for the ongoing support she receives from Tricia Nabors, Executive Director of New Choices.
“I know I can go to her with questions or to ask for help with my resume,” she said. “That is important to me, to know that she is always there.”