33-year-old Queva Hubbard sways to Shirley Murdock’s empowering song, “I Love Me Better Than That” with a peaceful, content smile on her face. She’s just delivered her independent level project presentation to a room full of staff members and fellow clients at The Pavilions. In a few short weeks she will be graduating from the program, re-uniting with her 13-year-old daughter, and moving into her own apartment in Belen, NM.
Located in Los Lunas, NM, The Pavilions is the newest program location for Crossroads for Women. The transitional housing facility, funded in part by the New Mexico Department of Corrections, opened its doors to 13 women in May 2016. Queva, affectionately known as “Qu”, was among that first group of women. Program Director Cory Lee says Qu has been “very instrumental as one of the ladies to build that first community.” There are currently 21 women housed at the 30-bed facility and over half of them are also employed, including Qu.
Each day at The Pavilions is highly structured to help the women develop a routine, work on their recovery, and develop life skills. On weekdays the women start their day with assigned chores followed by a morning meeting. Daily activities include attending groups led by staff members, addiction recovery meetings like AA, and community field trips. On the weekends, women spend designated time visiting with their children and family members. They also have the opportunity to work on their spiritual development as desired.
Like Qu, all of the women at The Pavilions have been previously incarcerated. Program Director Cory Lee routinely visits the prisons to educate women about The Pavilions program and interview potential clients. It took Qu several months before she was even willing to talk with anyone about the program. “They were actually coming (to the prison) but I was so resistant about wanting to change at the time I wasn’t trying to hear it,” says Qu. At the urging of friend, Qu finally sat down to talk with “Miss Cory” and that’s when everything started to change.
“She didn’t see me as a prisoner,” says Qu. “Even in the facility she didn’t see me as a prisoner, she saw me as just a woman wanting help and wanting a way out. And that was enough right there for me to be willing to give this a chance.”
Prior to entering The Pavilions program, Qu spent two and half years in prison for drug trafficking and possession after serving a one-year sentence several years earlier. Three months before she entered prison for the second time, Qu decided to stop using and selling drugs. On January 22, 2017, Qu celebrated three years clean. “A lot of people don’t consider incarceration as years clean, but until you go through incarceration–it’s years clean,” says Qu. “There are more drugs in there than there are out her on the streets. So I consider them years clean.”
Qu has dedicated nine months to her recovery and development in The Pavilions program. Working to complete her freshman through senior levels onto independent living, Qu relied on her sense of humor, honesty, and determination to walk in fear and create a new life. Once she reached her senior level she “transitioned from a victim to a survivor.” Qu says, “No longer did I consider incarceration or my addiction as a setback but a blessing and a new beginning.”
The open-minded and understanding staff members at The Pavilions have played a huge role in Qu’s journey to becoming a stronger, independent woman. “Everybody has a story, everybody has a background. It may be different but in some ways we can all relate,” says Qu. “And when you can relate to someone, you start to trust them more.”
This month Qu earns the honor of becoming the first graduate of The Pavilions. “Of course I have fears but the accomplishment to me is that I’m making the choice to do this on my own,” says Qu. “I’m not going back into that environment I know so well.”
Like the words of her favorite Shirley Murdock song, Qu loves herself better than that. She’s taken her life back and each day she is finding new opportunities for joy, peace, and strength. Even though her time at The Pavilions is coming to an end, her legacy will live on; inspiring other women that change truly is possible.
–Written by Clarissa Earl