"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…" – Joshua 24:15 (NIV)
It is almost unfathomable to believe that just nine years ago Neen was in prison—a place as familiar to her as the streets she lived on. In just 15 years, she had been arrested 83 times with 66 convictions. Neen had–and lost–four children, she was a crack addict, a prostitute, and desperately lost. But as long as she had breath, she would still have hope. One day, after 19 years hustling on the streets of Annapolis, Neen's crumb of hope turned into a seed of trust.
"Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…" – Joel 2:25 (NASV)
Healing Neen isn't just another story about victims and survivors or recovery and redemption; ultimately, it is a story of Good News and a testament to God's grace and presence. It is the story of a woman's path to salvation and a propitious glimpse into the potential buried deep within some of society's most vulnerable people.
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven, their angels always see the face of my Father, who is in heaven." – Matthew 18:10 (ESV)
But this story isn't just about Neen; it's about the value of human life, the depth of suffering, and the heights of grace. It is a convincing cri de Coeur for better practices in the way we treat and counsel those caught in the cycles of trauma, addiction, and serial incarceration. Neen brings us face-to-face with the ubiquitous corruption, neglect, and abuse in some of the systems meant to safeguard at-risk women and children, yet she leaves us with hope that things can change for the better.
Today, Tonier Cain's calling is to help save thousands of other "Neens" across the nation. She is a leading advocate for trauma-informed care in prisons and mental health facilities. She is a champion for examining and improving the way we help one another toward redemption, and she is the voice of compassion and promise for so many still living on the fringe who need to hear, "where there's breath, there's hope.