Lost and Found

Baby Girl has one last chance at a new life.

She's more afraid that she'll sell crack than she is that she'll smoke it. That's why she needs a job, a job that lets her make other people happy. The money's not so important, as long as she makes enough that the only support she needs from others is moral support. She'd be happy working a cash register if she got to chat with people; she thinks a nursing situation would be good, too. She's trying to think about the future.

"I can't plan my whole year, I can't plan these next five months, I can't plan this week. I'm going to do tonight and then start tomorrow and do tomorrow," she sighed, just minutes out of jail. "I don't like that, though. I want to know what's cracking. Usually, what my addictive criminal thought is, is ŒBlam, I'm going to make $700 this week.' Now, I'm just going to spend the night tonight. This is the block, too. It's not my block, but I'm sure everybody knows me around here, too."

Clayton knows Baby Girl all too well. People who haven't worked with drug-addicted prostitutes have no idea what it takes to turn their lives around. Even the experts at Empowerment are reassessing their goal for Chrysalis, which was supposed to start in September but didn't get going until February. No way will 75 women graduate this first year. So far, not a single woman has. "God, they're like babies," Clayton says of the participants. "Small children who don't have the very basic life skills, so fifty graduating this year is unrealistic, especially until we can get the program through the trial-and-error phase."

Mark Manger
Lois Clayton, manager of the Chrysalis Project, is on 
call 24/7.
John Johnston
Lois Clayton, manager of the Chrysalis Project, is on call 24/7.

Baby Girl is part of that. "I believe she is learning the courage that it takes to live her life," Clayton says. "What's different is that she knows, she's starting to believe, that there are people out there who really care. And even looking back at her grandparents, her mother, all the people that she wasn't quite sure of, looking back now, she can see that in their own kind of way, they were concerned about her."

Clayton is determined to help Baby Girl remember the childhood she claims she's forgotten. "If the world ended tomorrow, today at least I know that I've done my best," she says. "My hopes are that these women can close their eyes with one pleasantry, whether it be a smile or a hug or a thought that somebody really cares, you know what I mean?"

Baby G does.

Over Memorial Day weekend, she visited her oldest child at her grandparents' house. When she told her grandmother about the safehouse she was living in, Grandma said, "Well, you could stay with us if you weren't so bad."

Baby G saw her son's karate match and took him to a Colorado Crush game.

And by the end of the visit, the girl she used to be was coming out of Baby Girl. She hugged her grandmother -- and Grandma hugged her back. "When I went to pull away," Baby G says, "she still held on to me."

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