Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Girls, Two Worlds, One Desitnation

So, my darling daughter, Leslie, goes back to Austin to begin her sophomore year at UT on August 18. It’s been a bit of a bumpy summer for both of us, but all will end well. Lorena, Promise House's star Valedictorian of Carter High School, who has lived with us in our Transitional Living program since January, is also going to Austin in August to begin her freshman year at UT.

These two girls could not have come from any more different worlds; Leslie, somewhat spoiled (actually spoiled rotten!), pampered, dearly loved, bright, with many great things handed to her in life; Lorena, abused, passed from relative to relative, fighting for every good thing she has accomplished. And yet…..they are both teenagers, they are both brilliant, courageous young women…..their hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, anxieties, are very similar. They both have to get “stuff” ready for their dorm room and apartment. They both had to get registered, will have to get books, will have to manage their schedules, their social lives, their money. They both will be navigating unfamiliar territory (Leslie is changing majors).

As different as the worlds from which they come are, they will be in the same world at UT—the great equalizer. Leslie will have me to call with emergencies, sorrows, joys, accomplishments, challenges, problems. Who will Lorena call? She will call US. She knows she can call Regina, her Program Manager or Sherlyn, her case manager or me or anyone here at Promise House anytime with any question, problem, accomplishment, great news, etc.

For holidays, Leslie will come to her home. Where will Lorena go? She will come to her home…..with Promise House. We have reserved a room for her in one of the TLP houses, so that she will always have a place to come home to while she is in college. And, she will help mentor the younger girls in the house while she is home. Pretty darn cool, huh? Chokes me up a bit.

I don’t know if Lorena has gone shopping for her dorm stuff, yet, but I know Regina and Sherlyn will get that done with her. I’ve told them that if they need my help getting Lorena down to Austin to let me know. Leslie and I will be going anyway, and I’m sure we can cram some more stuff in one of our cars.

I’m tellin’ you…….I just love my job.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sometimes It's Really Hard to Say Goodbye

Ashley had been with us in the shelter for about three months. She left today, and we are all sad, hopeful, and anxiously awaiting news of how she does with her mom.

Ashley came to us from a foster placement, because her foster parent could not handle both Ashley and her baby. So, Ashley stayed with us and the baby in foster care (I’m not sure why they would not place her and the baby with us), but luckily, Ashley got to see her baby regularly.

She made great strides while with us. She graduated from High School, became a leader among her peers, got a job with the Texas Network of Youth Services interviewing homeless teens for a research study, worked hard in counseling, got stabilized on the correct meds, and we all fell in love with her.

Since she is in the custody of Child Protective Services, it is their decision as to her next placement. We tried to get them to place her and her baby with us at Wesley Inn, but evidently, she still has life skills she needs to acquire before they will reunite her and her baby. At any rate, if she does well with her mom in the next several months, CPS has said she can have the baby back. Of course, we’ve told her to call us at any time if she needs us, and Alex met with her and gave her all sorts of fatherly advice (take your meds, don’t get in trouble, call us if you need us, etc.).

So say a prayer, send a good thought, or do whatever you do to hope for good things for this child. Cause that’s what she is, and she has become our child over the last three months. And….it’s very hard to let her go…..and sometimes it's just really hard to say goodbye.