Women graduate from Sheffield Place with a fresh start, new perspective

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In this season of graduations, we're used to seeing people in caps and gowns talking about college or careers after four years of school. Tuesday night, however, was a different kind of graduation. There were no tassels or caps, but tears of joy for overcoming years of hardship and graduating with the possibility of a new life.

Walking up and down Independence Avenue, you can see where Robyn Potter's home was and what she had to do to get her next fix.

"I think about the women that are still out there and it hurts because I know what they're going through, I know the crying at night that they do," Potter said.

Addicted to meth, then crack cocaine, Robyn became a prostitute and lived the only life she thought she deserved.

"Nobody cares about me, nobody wants me, and it's sad because a lot of it was the death of a lot of people I know," Robyn said.

Finally, she found Sheffield Place.

"They got me back into school, I went from a fifth grade education, to now I'm in a 12th grade education," Potter said.

Tuesday night, Robyn, along with several other women graduated from Sheffield Place with new outlooks on life.

Women like Alethia Mackey.

"If somebody put their hands on you in front of your child, you're gone. That's what I did," Alethia Mackey said, remembering her experience with domestic violence.

Alethia spent time in domestic violence shelters and is now becoming certified to work in health care facilities.

Robyn lives in her own apartment with her two daughters, Neveah and Sabina.

"We get to make popcorn, and we get to sit on our own couch," Potter said.

She says it's simple nights like those that help her know all the struggles were worth it. She plans to attend Penn Valley in the fall to become a substance abuse counselor.

"I'm ready to get my little badge that says I'm in college," Potter smiled.

While Robyn's new life seems miles away from her life on the streets, she still has nightmares and cries for the women she knows are in danger every day.

"The way girls are just dropping like they're nothing out there. That could be me. I sit there and I think about it, and it makes me even more grateful for Sheffield Place," Potter said.

To find out more about Sheffield Place, click here.

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