Mother’s Day Essay Contest Winners

Vertava Health Massachusetts and Shame Kills are excited to announce the winners of our first Mother’s Day essay competition. This was no easy decision to make, and we received so many amazing submissions; it was really incredible to hear so many great stories of love and triumph.

We thank everyone who participated and for sharing their experiences. Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there.


Dana Clark, Tennessee

“You ok?”

“Yeah, I… I’m fine,” attempting to convince myself.

“I’ll visit every week,” my mother declared, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“You don’t have to, mom,” I replied.

“No, I WILL be there,” she affirmed.

I couldn’t look back to tell her “Goodbye.” Knowing the pain I caused only added to the dark, self-inflicted cloud of shame that hovered over me as I walked into the cold jail, my home for the next 25 days.

I never dreamt nearly five years ago, as a 38-year-old mother of four, I would succumb to the deceptive whisperings of alcohol, rendering me addicted, ultimately leading me to be charged with DUI and three counts of child endangerment.

The arrest inspired my healing, however, and my mother, my hero, walked with me every step toward freedom.

Only my mother visited me in jail. Only my mother housed me when I was homeless. Only my mother drove me to therapy and job interviews when I was license-less. Only my mother cared for my children when I couldn’t, and only she discovered a place where I could receive restoration, gently nudging me, as a momma bird prods her baby from the nest, to accept help from The Bethany House II, a free 9-month redemption home for women. These tangible acts of love have aided in my recovery, but my mother’s words of life poured into my dry and weary soul keep me going.

“I know MY Dana. She WILL make it.”

Making it, I am, taking one day at a time, shedding shame and holding tightly to hope.

Runner Up

Julia Tannenbaum, Connecticut

Heroes walk among us. They’re a doctor who revives a child’s failing heart. They’re a firefighter who risks her life to extinguish the flames of someone’s smoldering house. They’re an elderly couple who adopt a mistreated dog. They’re everyday people demonstrating acts of kindness in a cruel and unforgiving world. And I’m blessed to have two of them living with me; my mothers.

There was a time, not so long ago, when my future seemed as hopeless as a dark abyss of despair, waiting to swallow me whole. I contemplated ending my life, figuring death was my only escape, and I probably would’ve followed through—had my mothers not been there to rescue me. They confronted my demons with brute determination, relentlessly fighting for my right to live freely; a right, I once thought, I’d lost forever.

My climb from rock bottom was slippery and steep, yet I wasn’t intimidated for I knew if I fell, my mothers would catch me. “You think climbing Mount Everest is hard?” they’d joke, and I’d crack a smile. Somehow, their humor always brightened my somber mood.

Mother’s Day may only come once a year, however my appreciation for my mothers and their capability to foster me into an independent young woman is something I commemorate every day. Recovery is an arduous process but I’m confident that together, we can conquer my illness once and for all. With my mothers by my side, anything is possible.

Thank you to all who entered!

With over 140 essay submissions, we were incredibly impressed with all the heartwarming stories expressing the love and appreciation for mothers. We hope you continue to follow us and support our mission to fighting addiction. If you are interested in more opportunities like this, please check out and participate in our Father’s Day contest! We look forward to reading more of your stories!