Tabitha Alfonso, of Morgantown, Ky. is older than 37, even though she just celebrated the birthday. Her past has aged her.


She was born in Morgantown, Ky. as one of seven siblings. Three girls, four boys. The three girls are best friends. Of the four boys, one went into the military and lives at home, another also lives at home, and the other two are in jail.


Tabitha has been to jail. In fact, she has 9 felonies on her record, prostitution being the most frequent. It’s hard to get a job with 9 felonies on your record. Alfonso knows this well.


That’s where the Reach Higher program comes in.


Reach Higher helped Tabitha get a job, working at the Morgantown Mission, a thrift store. She sorts and tags clothes all day. When asked how she likes working there, it’s easy to see she enjoys her time spent bent over donations of baby onesies and men’s jeans.


Tabitha likes her job, but she loves her daughters.


“I do everything I do now for my daughters,” Tabitha says on a sunny Sunday afternoon. She watches her daughters play in an inflatable pool she has set up and run around their yard. She laughs with them, never yells, and is gentle in discipline. Her life revolves around her girls, and she’s the first to admit it. Her oldest daughter is 10, her youngest 3. Neither girl has a father – the oldest’s father hasn’t been in contact since Contessa was two, and the youngest’s father was deported to Mexico when Tabitha was three months pregnant.


But Tabitha takes pride in being able to provide for her daughters and have their own place to come home to. She’s independent.


It’s why she got married at 15 and left home. It’s why she moved to South Carolina. It’s why she turned to prostitution, her last option of making an income on her own. And it’s why she turned to Reach Higher when she moved back to Morgantown and couldn’t land a job.


On May 8, Tabitha is going to jail. She has wondered what she would do when she graduated Reach Higher and now she has her answer. 30 days in jail and then to a rehab facility for drugs.


Alfonso is scared, but not defeated.


“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Tabitha said. “but my girls and I will make it.”


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