BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When Sarah Lemery dropped out of high school her freshman year, she was 16, pregnant and headed down a dark path of addiction. Now at 34 and pregnant with her fourth child, she is turning her life around, and she's not going to let anything stop her.
"I took the wrong road and kept on going down, ended up getting in trouble," Lemery said. "I went to prison, got out and tried doing good and still couldn't do it."
It started with marijuana, then alcohol -- eventually, Lemery turned to narcotics. "I didn't want to look at myself," Lemery said. "Its hard to form that new life if you don't have anyone to help you form that foundation." She says trips to prison, countless drug charges and losing her three children wasn't the turning point for her – it was the loss of her mother to alcoholism.
When Lemery went back to Penobscot County Jail on a drug charge in the spring of 2017 she was connected with the Literacy Volunteers of Bangor and it changed everything. The non-profit is made up of volunteers dedicated to strengthening their community through free English language tutoring. It recently partnered with the Penobscot County Jail to provide those services to inmates.
"When you're in there working with people that give you strength and praise you for things you've done good, it helps you get a plan together, walk out the door and have something set in stone," Lemery said. "You can keep on moving forward you don't have to look back."
Lemery's tutor Eileen McAvoy became more than a teacher -- she became her biggest support system. She helped Lemery find the confidence she needed to create the fresh start she had always wanted -- starting with her GED which she received in May.
"That's always been a dream of mine," Lemery said. "My dad always told me I was going to be the first female president so I kind of felt like a failure when I didn't graduate high school."
Now she is on the path to success, with no intention of ever looking back. "I didn't want to keep on hurting my family, I don't want to keep on hurting my children," Lemery said. "I don't want to see tears run down my sons eyes again, you know I want to be there for them."
If you would like to learn more about the education programs offered in Maine prisons, click here.