Thursday’s Family

The Kissels’ Journey

Chantel Kissel, 35, saw her family spiral into crisis. In 2015 Kissel’s family was at a crossroads. Her husband was mired in alcohol addiction and unemployment; her children — Alek, 10, Nick, 8, and Lilak, 1 — struggled with a difficult home life, and Chantel worked multiple jobs to hold her family together, simultaneously contemplating divorce. Her husband, Aaron, entered a Salvation Army alcohol rehab program in Ohio, and Chantel entered the Pathway of Hope program, a program partially funded by Metro United Way, in Louisville.

“Pathway of Hope held me accountable to my goals,” Kissel said. “They never judged me. Growing up, I didn’t trust [anybody]. I had no friends. Over time, the people at Pathway of Hope became my friends and taught me how to trust. It was a relief and a weight off my shoulders because I realized I wasn’t doing it all by myself and there was help out there if you’re willing to let it happen.”

Pathway of Hope helped Kissel with financial planning, the search for a car and housing, clothing, school supplies, and counseling for her entire family. “It was chaotic in my mind, but I set one goal at a time and achieved it one day at a time,” she said. “My husband and I got our credit scores up, paid off our bills, and we’re learning how to budget. He’s out of rehab and keeping a steady job. He’s proud of himself, and I’m proud of him. Our kids see a big difference. It’s been hard, I won’t lie, but they are closer to their father now and we’ve learned how to function as a family again.”

The Kissel family has come full circle in three years. They are close to purchasing their first home, which they never expected, and their children are enrolling in private school. “I would never dream my kids could go to private school,” Kissel said. Her case manager helped Kissel navigate the application and financial aid process for her son Nick to enroll in the West End Boys School. “We loved it, but he was put on a waiting list. In June, we got a call that he was invited to a summer camp there, and I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’ He’s never shown so much excitement for school.”

Her daughter is paying it forward as well. Now 13, Alek volunteers at the Salvation Army. “I’ve watched her change from defiance to appreciation,” said Kissel. “She says it’s the least she can do to help others who are in similar situations as we were. As a mom, that’s amazing to witness.”

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