Family recounts struggles with drugs, homelessness

Former Cornerstone Apartment residents Matt and Kim Reagan are "brutally honest" in relating a journey that's taken them from drug abuse, homelessness, incarceration and loss of custody of their son.

The Reagan family, from left, Kimberly, Ashley, Matt and Kim, has reunited and is progressing, crediting the help of area agencies’ personnel. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

 Former Cornerstone Apartment residents Matt and Kim Reagan are “brutally honest” in relating a journey that’s taken them from drug abuse, homelessness, incarceration and loss of custody of their son.

     Now the Reagans celebrate recovery. They have a place to call home on Charles Street. They are gainfully employed and, as of June, will be reunited with their youngest son, John.

     “We’re back on track,” Kim said. “But I don’t know where we’d be without Rosy and Nicole,” she said, referring to Rosy Hjermstad of Mahube-Otwa and Nikki Clancy of the HRDC.

     The former managers of the middle school apartments and parents of four decided to move to Reno, Nev. in 2011, where they assumed more jobs would be available.

     “And to get out of Park Rapids,” Matt said. “We were concerned with the drug issues… But it was worse in Reno,” where they succumbed to drug use.


     “We got into drugs and things went downhill,” he said. “We couldn’t focus on jobs, providing a roof over our kids’ heads. Our youngest son was taken away from us, removed from our home at 15 (in 2014).

     “And just when we thought things couldn’t get worse,” Matt received warrants for his arrest related to a DUI in 2009 in Minnesota.

     “I thought I could run from it,” he said.

     But he didn’t. He headed back to Park Rapids, serving time. After his release, time spent without communication with his family, he returned to Reno, subsequently sending his oldest son, Matt, back to Park Rapids with daughters Ashley and Kimberly to live with friends.

     Matt Sr. remained in Reno because Kim “was still using drugs and did not want to leave.”

     “We hit rock bottom in Reno,” Kim said.

     “I realized we both had to change, but not one without the other,” Matt said of remaining in Nevada with Kim.

     “I wanted to come back,” Matt said. “I knew Mahube and Cornerstone could help us.”


     And so, in the spring of 2014, they migrated northeast. Matt went into treatment in Pine Manor, learning drug addiction “is a disease that’s out of my control, until I got help.

     “It’s the best thing I ever did,” he said of recovery. “And they had great food!”

     Kim went through outpatient treatment. Now sober, “I see things from a different perspective, she said.

     The Reagans subsequently went through a self-prescribed “honesty” program.

     “We had lied our way through drug use,” Kim said.    

     “Nikki gave us another chance,” Matt said of returning to Cornerstone for the third time.

     Thursday, Kim earned a round of applause at the Northwoods Community Conversation event when she advocated people be tested for drugs before receiving housing assistance.

     Now, 14 months “clean,” Kim works as a manager at Burger King. Matt is recovering from foot surgery from an injury sustained in 2009. “The pain was masked by drug use.” He’s anxious to return to work at Burger King. “I’m counting the days.”


     “Miss it? Not for one moment,” Matt said of the drug use. “We have a house, two cars.”

     “We are paying bills on time. We haven’t done that in a year,” Kim said. “And the kids respect us,” she said.

     Matt, 20, a student in the Alternative Learning Program, is five credits from graduating, with plans to go on to college. Ashley, 18, is working toward a GED. Kimberly, 16, who was formerly truant, has missed just one day this year, Social Services “friend and counselor” Shawn Dean credited with getting her “back on track.”

     Homelessness is “very frightening,” Kim said.

     It incites a feeling of worthlessness, Matt said, “to have no roof over your kids’ heads.”

     Family shelters in Reno have waiting lists. The temporary shelters resemble school gyms, males separated from mothers and children, he said.

     “The opportunity in this town is so much greater than Minneapolis,” Matt said.

     “But I would like to see funding for another building in Park Rapids,” Kim added of Cornerstone. “There’s always a waiting list.”      


     “It feels wonderful to have come so far,” she said. “Together. This has brought us closer.”

     The family will be completely reunited in June, when John comes home from Reno “for good.”

     “Our goal is to purchase a house,” said the Reagans, who are now grandparents, son Matt the father of Atticus. “We love this town.”



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