Let Olivia Stop You in Your Tracks on this Beautiful Fall Day!

IMG_6607Note from Audra:

You’ve seen our traffic girls through the spring and summer. The construction won’t last through winter. Meet Olivia on this beautiful fall day! All the “Traffic Gals” have amazing stories but Olivia’s tugged at my heart the most. Read on and you’ll likely understand why….

By Stephanie Kayhan

Meet Olivia. My conversation with Olivia was one that had me thinking all day about life and the truth of the saying, “Never judge anyone. Everyone is facing a battle of some kind.” I was standing in front of a beautiful girl, who told me her story with such grace and smiled and laughed throughout our conversation and just lit it up. I’m guessing, that’s because it is Olivia’s way…to accept and move on, to be driven and to have an inner strength that is admirable.
Olivia grew up with no structure, her mother a drug addict, and at a very young age, had over-exposure to the drug lifestyle. She had to live with her grandmother, as her mother wasn’t able to take care of her. This was very difficult for Olivia, especially in her teenage years. “It was really tough.”, she said. Her mother’s lifestyle haunted her and stuck with her, despite being in a better environment with her grandmother (who she still lives with today). Olivia was given the best of everything. She attended private school and graduated and went on to be on the dean’s list and graduate from Mercer University with a degree in nursing. She never was able to work as a nurse however. She had great schooling and had a drive, but it was the wrong kind of drive. Here she was, a nurse, with three children to protect and support and their father was in jail. She didn’t have any money and didn’t know what to do. So she said, “I made a big, big mistake and started dealing drugs.” It brought her the money she needed and quickly, she became addicted to the lifestyle. Eventually though, Olivia faced the reality that nothing lasts forever. The turning point for her was when she got stuck in Gwinnett County Jail and simply had no way out. Olivia said quite bluntly, “Being arrested was the best thing that ever happened to me.” It turned her life around, but certainly not in the way that anyone would have wished for his/her future. It gave her a drive of a different kind…a drive to accept and move on and set goals of a different kind. She told me that she has big goals and wants to achieve things, but her situation set her back and taught her many lessons. After being arrested, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison, though to serve 10. She ended up serving 40 months. Because her crime was non-violent, she was a good inmate and worked hard, she was able to get out early on parole. She is on parole until 2021 and will then be eligible for probation and serve that time until 2031. It’s an incredibly long time and she suffers the consequences of her poor choices every single day. “When I got out, I needed money and I came to a humbling point. I needed a job, but who is going to hire someone with a record? I ended up calling some prison buddies to reach out and see what to do.” Olivia ended up calling Gigi. The two of them were arrested the same day, and met. Gigi suggested GS Construction. And now, here she is, a flagger. Oliva is thankful to GS Construction for giving her this opportunity and grateful for her start in the world that she is making for herself. “This is a start.”, she says. “We are decent people who made mistakes. Life’s hard.” Olivia is busy building a work history and is repairing ties with family. She takes care of her grandfather when she isn’t working, and she’s thankful for her nursing skills as she is able to do this. She remains active in her children’s lives and lives each day the best she is able to do. As our conversation came to a close, she said, “Wait, wait, wait…I want to tell you something else!” She said that the most stressful part of her job as flagger was on the very first day when she had to use the port-a-potty. She said she literally went into survival mode. “Ah, the stress!!!” she said. “I’m a princess and this story needs some comic relief!”

You are rich according to what you are, not according to what you have.

One comment on “Let Olivia Stop You in Your Tracks on this Beautiful Fall Day!

  1. I love her story. It shows there is always a reason for something even though at the moment you cant see it. It takes trails to find your way out sometimes too. Definitely an inspirational story. thanks for sharing her story!

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