Coming Back from Nothing: How Polina Earned a Comfortable Life for Her Family
Polina Grichtchenko is busy. She works long hours—sometimes weekends—and squeezed in time to speak with us while preparing lunches for her daughter. But for Polina, being busy is good. It means she can provide for her family.
“I’ve done a lot of hard work to get back to this good life,” Polina said. “And I’ll keep working. I had to crawl all the way back up, because I lost everything.”
Years before she came to Solutions for Change, Polina lived the stable, independent life any Overcomer would hope to live. She held down jobs, paid her bills and stayed away from any substances or dependencies. After six years of sobriety, however, Polina relapsed—and her life as she knew it fell apart.
Polina went from a safe, secure life to couch surfing and dangerous situations in a matter of months. Because of her substance use, she lost her home, work and everything that held her world together. And to pile on to the pressure, Polina was pregnant.
“Being pregnant through this time was definitely a wake up call,” Polina said. “I had lifted myself up out of addiction before, but not with a baby to care for. I wanted more than anything to be able to provide for my daughter, and I knew I couldn’t really do that while sleeping on a friend’s couch.”
Polina decided to take her life back—for her sake and her daughter’s. She checked into a drug treatment center and worked on overcoming her substance use. After five months of treatment, Polina started looking for a more permanent housing option that would be suitable to raise a baby girl. The treatment center team quickly pointed Polina in the direction of Solutions for Change.
“Solutions seemed like a great option for affordable housing, but I was also really interested in their programs that could help me get back on my feet,” Polina said. “We were on the Solutions for Change waitlist for a few months, but when we got a spot in their housing, I hit the ground running.” While housing is a critical component of Solutions Academy, parents who choose to come to Solutions are looking for much more than what is offered by other housing providers and they are ready to commit to make big changes in their life, for themselves and their children.
Every day in Solutions Academy, Polina would wake up at 5:30 a.m., get her daughter ready for daycare, head to work, take classes, work some more and spend time with her family. Out of immense determination and work ethic, Polina held herself to a rigorous schedule and quickly moved through the Solutions Academy programs.
“I kept my head down and just worked through Solutions Academy, and my case manager had my back the whole time,” Polina said. “She told me I was a role model because I didn’t drag my feet or complain, I just did what needed to be done. I took her words to heart, and I’m so proud of what I have achieved.”
Polina soon graduated from Solutions Academy and moved to our off-campus graduate housing at our Escondido property—an affordable housing development operated by New Solutions, one of our social enterprise business models. The residents at the Escondido property pay rents that are nearly equivalent to market-value. The higher rent provides them with more space and amenities while preparing them for future economic mobility as their financial situation continues to improve.
“The Escondido property is the perfect place for my daughter and I to be right now,” Polina said. “This place builds my confidence because it proves to me that I can pay full rent prices and still provide for my family. My rent is just high enough that I have to work hard to maintain it, but that’s a good habit for me to keep. Solutions is good at teaching you not to get overly comfortable with your life and to always push forward.”
After losing everything to a relapse, Polina was finally on solid ground again. She worked through 2020 with focus and rigor. As she and her colleagues faced devastating layoffs during the pandemic, Polina kept moving forward. When one job ended, she immediately started searching for a new one. Now, nothing keeps her down for long.
“The servant leadership values you get at Solutions really ground me and humble me,” Polina said. “I lead by serving my family and my community. After everything I’ve been through, I’m grateful to have a home and a family to work hard for. I came to Solutions ready to change my life, and they supported me with no judgement. I’m still amazed at how good the Solutions team is at building self-esteem. They built my broken spirit back up.”
Now, Polina has everything she had before her relapse—a home, a job and the means to live a comfortable life. She also has a sweet little family to care for, and a car to give them some freedom. Everything is falling into place.
“When you’re an addict, you’re always running and hiding,” Polina said. “Because of Solutions, I have peace, security and purpose. Now all I want to do is give back. My next goal is to become a Solutions volunteer.”
To learn more about Solutions for Change’s programs and housing opportunities, see how Solutions Academy is transforming and rebuilding lives.