“We All Had Our Part in the Healing”

Terri Scardino suffered the all too common experience of being the child of an alcoholic parent. By the time she was an adult, she had lost both a brother and a nephew to suicide. She was determined not to succumb to alcoholism or addiction herself, so when her son, Giovanni, fell to drug addiction, Terri was heartbroken.

Terri and her husband were also struggling in their marriage at that time, and she found it hard to know how to deal with all the chaos and usher her family to health. A friend of hers told her about Shelterwood, so they decided to try it out.

“When Shelterwood came along, we had no place else to send Giovanni when he got into trouble. We just continued muddling through as well as we could,” Terri said.

That “muddling through” was the first step to a life-changing experience — certainly for Terri’s son, but also for herself.  

One of the words Terri uses most to describe Shelterwood’s approach is “holistic.” She means it not only helped Giovanni to look at all aspects of his life in order to make a sustainable change, but it helped her and her husband, too.

“[Shelterwood] approached the healing process from a whole family perspective,” Terri said. “We all got involved and had our part in the healing.”

The support from Shelterwood crossed over into Terri and her husband’s life, too, and they spent time working on themselves as individuals and as a couple.

“As parents, we often do our children a huge disservice by trying to make them believe that we have all the answers,” Terri explained. “Pride gets in the way for parents often, and it’s hard to really show up for them the way you want to. So we had a lot of growing ourselves to do in the program.”

Shelterwood also helped Giovanni grow in his faith, encouraging him to find his value and worth in his faith, not in external things. “Giovanni just kept on trusting and had faith, and his faith got stronger, and he leaned into Jesus for his needs.”

Giovanni graduated from Shelterwood in 2012. He graduated from college in 2017 and has since found all sorts of success, from participating in summer internships and international missions to pursuing a license in commercial real estate.

Thinking back to when Giovanni went to Shelterwood in 2012, Terri says. “it was heart-wrenching to send her son away from their home for eight months, but in retrospect, she knows it was the best decision her family could have made.”

“Eight months is such a short time and it goes so fast,” Terri said. “To parents, the time commitment may seem daunting at first, but the outcome over that short period is life-changing and so worth it. When we run into these crossroads, we must let our kids draft behind a trusted partner and allow them to find their own way through.”

We provided the resource of [sending Giovanni to] Shelterwood, but it was up to him to embrace it, work through it, struggle through it, own it and grow through it.” There were times when the struggle was real and intense and he didn’t want believe this was where he belonged. After about  two months at Shelterwood, he embraced it, and now says he would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

And so would she, but thanks to Shelterwood, she won’t have to.


Take the first step for hope, real heart change and real restoration for your teen. Reach out today: 866.585.8939.