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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Family life is sweeter these days for Katie Adams and her four children. Meeting Esther Garcia is part of the reason why.

“Esther was awesome,” says Adams, adding, “She just always listens.”

Esther Garcia is a counselor with the Children’s Home Society’s Family Preservation and Stabilization Program. She quickly became Katie Adam’s trusted mentor and confidante.

“When I saw Katie, that’s what I felt that she needed the most, that support, that knowing that somebody was going to be there guiding her with her children, guiding her with herself,” says Garcia.

Katie was at a low point at the time. She was facing the mounting stress of motherhood and a relationship that took a violent turn.

“It was a one-time thing that happened and, you know, you never think it will happen to you, but when it does it’s scary. It escalated pretty quickly. The police got involved, children’s services got involved. All of a sudden your world is flipped upside down,” recounts Adams who said she and the children had to undergo interviews with social workers and other government officials.

Adams was also dealing with the mental abuse from a previous relationship. The mounting pressure of it all was causing her to lose her temper and yell at her kids.

Wanting to take control of her life, she signed-up for the parenting program on her own and started getting weekly visits from Garcia. They talked about effective communication techniques and discipline strategies among other parenting and relationships topics.

“If a parent doesn’t take care of themselves, there’s no way they can take care of their kids. If a parent is not 100-percent mentally, physically, emotionally there, then you won’t be 100-percent there for your kids,” says Garcia.

It was the permission Adams needed to focus on herself, and in doing so, focus on improving her family. Garcia sees the change, despite Adams facing additional challenges like losing her job at a boutique in the Florida Keys because of Hurricane Irma.

Garcia says Adams is, “way more positive. She’s way more happy and excited about the future.”

The special relationship between Adams and Garcia was born out of sharing personal details, a task that involves complete commitment to self-improvement. Garcia even formed a bond with Katie’s children, ages 11, 9, 6 and 1, who loved having her over. Now, life at Adams’ house is less about yelling and more about living.

“Home after school, snacks, homework, all the fun stuff, dinner,” says Adams, who graduated from the 24-week parenting program, but remains in contact with Esther.

Adams recommends other parents seek help when they feel stressed and overwhelmed. Children’s Home Society says 97 percent of families in the program report measureable improvement.

Click here for more about the Children’s Home Society of Florida.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

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