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Media contact: Eileen Sigler, 541.780.5137


First Place An Agent In Couple’s Change

Date: Thursday, May 23 2019
Michael and Reanna Paulo with 3-year-old Lui, left, and Logan, 2.


With help from local agencies, including First Place Family Center programs, Michael and Reanna Paulo are acheiving their goal of sobriety, family unity

     As 2019 began, Michael and Reanna Paulo lived apart but shared a common reality. The parents of two toddlers. They faced addiction, were alarmed by who they had become, and were doomed to remain so unless they took extreme steps – like leaving their native Northern California, families, and social circles, and heading to Oregon, determined to achieve distance, sobriety and unity as a family.

     Four months out, with the help of Willamette Family Treatment (WFTC), and St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Center and its sister programs, they are on track and describe their lives as exciting and adventurous in ways only sobriety can bring.

'You have to be honest with yourself and everyone else.'

                                  -- Michael Paulo

    They’re employed and in stable housing, their first in years. Lui, 3, and Logan, 2, can remain in the First Place Kids Early Childhood Program through summer for an individualized preschool experience as well as childcare.

     It’s beyond the Paulos’ expectations last January as they drove north, Michael at the wheel and Reanna making call after call to prospective residential treatment providers. Just when she thought she was headed to Klamath Falls for a needs assessment, she was abruptly rerouted farther north to Eugene and WFTC, where the advice came quick: “You need First Place Family Center.”

     Four words belie the alphabet of available resources. After Reanna worked through her treatment, First Place programs provided trusted caregivers for the kids, the resources of home for meals and laundry, and computers and time for job hunting. Michael found work as a steel fabricator, Reanna as a caregiver.

     As First Place kids, Lui and Logan got early-childhood screening. In Lui’s case, collaborative treatment for delayed speech revealed a hearing impairment. He’s getting help with both through Early Childhood CARES, or EC Cares, an early-intervention program operated by the UO College of Education that provides free intervention and special education to qualifying children in Lane County.

'Without First Place, we couldn't have done what we did.'
                                      --Reanna Paulo

     The preschool gave structure to the boys’ day, along with snacks and lots of time for supervised play and socialization.

     The Paulos spent nights at the First Place Annex and sometimes local motels, courtesy of supportive family back in California. The generosity points up an important aspect of uprooting from family and getting sober.

     “You have to be honest with yourself and everyone else,” Michael said. In the Paulos’ case, they received wholehearted support.

     With deposit help from First Place, the Paulos rented an apartment near the fairgrounds and moved in three months to the day after being diverted from Klamath Falls. They look back on recent years as if each were a decade of “trials and errors.” The memories only strengthen their resolve. “I believe in following through,” Michael said. “Finish what you start.”

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     While proud of their progress Michael and Reanna are mindful of the help received along the way. Said Reanna, Without First Place, we couldn’t have done what we did.”