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Local non-profit leader shares resilience and recovery

One of the leaders at our KOLO Cares Pillar Partner, Life Changes, is opening up about her struggles that turned to strength.
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 9:38 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - One of the leaders at our KOLO Cares Pillar Partner, Life Changes, is opening up about her struggles that turned to strength as women in our area continue to face emotional, mental and physical challenges.

As fast as life is going here lately, Sandy Finelli offers a gentle reminder to slow down, “For me if I don’t take time to just be still, then I can’t be effective. So I have a spot over here that I’ll come and sit here and meditate and watch the water go by or I’ll turn around and people watch, I love to people watch.”

Just as the Truckee River flows through the heart of the city, Finelli says it’s a great metaphor for how we can handle life, adding, “We navigate around the hurdles, and we move forward. Just keep moving forward, you don’t know where your journey is gonna take you but embrace it.” This is a wise woman who has immense experiences in obstacles, grief, abuse and incarceration. “Like so many of us in this field and with the clients we serve, a traumatic event happened in my life and everything spiraled downhill from then,” she details.

She’s the Administrative Director for Life Changes, a non-profit that serves men and women facing homelessness, addiction, sex trafficking and other issues. “I met him and he wanted to go and travel the country so we went and traveled the country and we came to Nevada, we committed a crime and we got arrested,” Finelli explains. She grew up in Alaska, lost a child in a violent manner, stayed with the wrong men and ended up spending eight years in women’s prison, coming out on life parole, adding, “I was scared so bad coming out of prison...into a world I knew nothing about because for the first time in twenty years, I wasn’t high...ya know? I tell our girls all the time, who we were, what we experienced and what we did does not define who we are and what we’re doing.”

Finelli is offering us a glimpse into her life to reach you or someone you know, who hasn’t been able to call for help. “I didn’t know the difference between making life happen for me or allowing life to happen to me,” she says. Women’s History Month highlights the resilience, tenacity and excellence of ladies across the globe. If you’re a woman watching this, Finelli reminds you to look within, “Every single one of us are worthy of redemption, but we have to make that choice and its hard and scary and sometime we have to leave things behind that we think we can’t live without. Someone reached their hand out to me and believed in me when I didn’t think I was worth it, but we are worth it.”

No one will be turned away from Life Changes. If you have professional dreams, educational goals and want to turn your life around, you can email Sandy at Sandy@lifechangesinc.org or visit https://www.lifechangesinc.solutions/.

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