In December 2004, Nobriga went into a residential drug treatment program. After she stayed clean for 9½ months, the state gave her custody of Enrique, and then she moved into a sober-living house. "I think I would have died a heroin addict if it weren't for Enrique," she says.
She continued in outpatient substance abuse programs and on Dec. 4, 2011, celebrated seven years of sobriety. "Enrique is in the second grade and he's never seen me high. He's never seen any domestic violence. His big brother is 20 years older and the two of them are just awesome together — they have such a great time."
Carrying a full load of classwork, Nobriga still finds time to talk with other addicts in hospitals and institutions, carrying the message about the life changes sobriety brings. She is interning at New Way of Life, a re-entry program for female former prisoners that helps them get a job or return to school. "It is hard when someone doesn't make it," she says, "but I keep saying we have to focus on the ones who are doing really well and recognize and encourage them every day."
In January, Nobriga will reach a new milestone: becoming a grandmother. Aaron and his fiancée are expecting a baby boy, and Nobriga can't wait. "Every time I go into a store and see a clearance on baby clothes, I'm drawn like a moth to a flame," she laughs. "I'm so looking forward to being a part of this baby's life!"
She pauses for a moment. "You know, I just never imagined I'd be where I am today. Life is so good to me today because, at long last, I've stopped beating myself up about my childhood. I'm good to myself, and I treat myself gently. I am so grateful and honored that AARP Foundation had faith in me and gave me a chance. I know now that my calling is to help other women who have gone through some of the things I have by teaching them to nurture themselves. Every day is a new opportunity for me to serve."
Also of interest: Scholarship recipient Annabelle Larsen. >>