One of our greatest joys is to redeem a childhood. So many who come to us have never experienced the innocence, freedom and joy that should be present in the early years of life. Instead, they have known pain, turmoil and adult responsibility.
We seek to be the vessel through which the Lord's restoration is poured out.
Keisha* has a very unique story: she placed herself at The Children's Home in November 2011. But then, very little about this 17-year old Tascosa High School senior is typical.
She had a hard home life growing up. Her mom made poor choices - choices which hurt Keisha enough that she finally decided last year to move in with a neighboring family. It was better, but still difficult.
For months, Keisha woke at 5 am, got ready and walked an hour to school at Palo Duro High School. When classes ended at 3 pm, she walked two hours to her job at McDonald's at I-40 and Western, working 5 pm - 3 am. A friend gave her a ride home to then sleep an hour or so before waking at 5 am to do it all over again. She tried her best to keep up her grades, but admits, "I fell asleep in class a lot."
Keisha was grateful to her new live-in family, but they struggled financially and relied on her more and more to make ends meet. "I really care about them, but my money stopped going to where it should."
Next, she moved in with a lady from church. During that time, she met two women who changed her life, Mary Strong of the Families in Transition Program and Jennifer Hall of the Safe Schools Healthy Students Mental Health Program. "They gave me clothes and bus vouchers so I wouldn't have to walk everywhere. They helped a lot."
They also connected Keisha with an AISD counselor who thought The Children's Home might be the perfect solution. "They weren't sure if I could get in since I was placing myself, but it worked out. I'm here."
For Keisha, respite came immediately. She credits her Family Teachers, Shannon and Phil Anderson, with much of the positive change in her life. "They're so nice, and want to help in every way - taking me to all my appointments, driving me to and from work. They barely even knew me, but they already cared."
Keisha realizes now she has spent the majority of her childhood in survival mode. "I didn't ever really get to be a kid, and I miss that."
These days, Keisha is trying to worry less, trust more and have a little fun along the way - taking time to simply hang out with friends, write poetry, listen to music and... just breathe. After high school, she plans to continue to work at McDonald's and attend Amarillo College. She'd love to be a pediatrician or psychiatrist.
The possibilities are endless now that she can actually plan for tomorrow. "The Children's Home lets you put the past behind you, and start a new beginning. It's amazing. Yeah, I'm still nervous, but that's okay. For the first time ever, I can be whoever I want to be."