“It’s nice to have your dad go, ‘Hey, I’m proud of you – you’re doing good.'”  ~ Melissa Etheridge


“It has been 14 months since I had my last hangover” was the first thing Kailey said when she sat down to talk about the road to where she is today.

I knew I had always wanted to help people,” she added. She needed to learn to take care of herself first. “I made a lot of bad decisions over the years.” When she moved to the area, she was a great student and loved to play hoops. Things changed right before the basketball season; “I came down with mono and was stuck at home for two months.” Kailey missed the basketball season and her world changed as she also fell behind in school to the point she was told she would not graduate. “I lost interest then” she said. She started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Since the girls did not hang out with her, she hung out with the guys – doing stuff guys wanted to do. The smoking started, the drinking started and her life started getting out of control. “When things went right, we drank. When things went wrong, we drank.” Kailey lived in the past, with all of the things that had gone wrong.

Life was not what she thought it should be, but as she said earlier, drinking was part of everyday life. She stopped and started many jobs because of drinking. She had one place she worked at because she memorized what was needed, “I stayed because I could come in hung over and still do the job – I had it down pat.” Kailey was on a vicious treadmill; drink, hung-over, lose job; drink, hung-over, go back to the job she memorized; day in day out; week in week out.

Then she had her last hangover. Kailey decided that it was time to stop seeing life through the past. It was time to move forward. She has been dry for 14 months now and oh how her life has changed.

In 2016, Kailey enrolled in the Minnesota Family Investment Program and began meeting with Martha, a Career Counselor at the Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training, and in 2018 Kailey began working with me.

I remember seeing her this past spring at the Northland Job Fair working at the Express Pros booth. I asked her if she was talking to them about work. She said, “No Dave, I work here!” In April of this year, she accepted a position with the Express Pros franchise in Duluth. Even Randy Back, Operations Director for the NE MN Office of Job Training, came to meet her at her booth.

A few weeks after she got her job, her mom pulled her aside and said, “I am proud of you.” After all of the years Kailey lost to addiction, to hear her mom say that simple phrase still chokes Kailey up. “For mom to say that still means so much to me!”

Recently, John Obrecht, the owner of the local Express Pros took Kailey to lunch. While there he offered her a promotion to Staffing Specialist. For years, all Kailey had wanted to do was help people. She had dreams about the idea of going into social work, but before sobriety that was all it was…a dream. She lived in the past – now she lives in the present, with her eyes on the future.

Kailey told a story of how the other day a guy came into Express looking for work. He had a “background” and was making a change. The guy had made a mistake, but Kailey decided to help him out. “He ‘fit the bill’ of what a client needed,” said Kailey. “I was willing to take a chance on him and he is doing great so far. Now I am truly helping people!”

She added, “What I am doing now is paying off, for both me and the people who come into Express Pros. The person I am turning into is someone who my mom is proud of, my family is proud of, and so am I.” 

In the song 14 Years, by the band Guns and Roses, it says “You don’t get 14 years back in just one day.” Kailey is proof of that. If she keeps at it, maintains her sobriety, and keeps impacting the job seekers she meets at Express Pros, she will continue to make a difference in her life and the lives of others going forward.




Skip to content