Gracie, age 20

Gracie’s Journey

This Hispanic young lady has been through many ordeals in her 18 years. Yet somehow she can reflect back on the past and still giggle. Gracie came into foster age at age 13 for the second time. She experienced eight years of physical abuse at the hands of her family. After being beaten by a two-by-four, she fled to a neighbor’s house, then on to the police department, and then by ambulance to the hospital. The next day she was placed in a group home in Freeport. Unfortunately the aftereffects of abuse continued to haunt Gracie. She became suicidal, self-mutilating, and often ran away. “I was what you call the troubled child.”

Gracie lived in so many places she can’t remember them all, but knew it was more than ten placements, not counting several hospitalizations. “I’ve been to just about every school there is.” This includes five different high schools. Yet still there’s determination in Gracie, and she graduated high school.

Becoming an Adult

By the time Gracie was 18, she was working as a waitress by night and going to school during the days. “I was so tired all of the time – sometimes I wanted to quit.” She was working her way through a local college to earn a certification in Medical Assisting when she decided to stop by the county shelter and show her previous case workers that she was doing something positive with her life. “Mr. T. told me about the HAY Center … I thought if CPS kids are going to be there that maybe I could find my brother.”

“Aren’t you going to give me a hug?”

Gracie found her way over to the HAY Center and was greeted at the door by whom else but her brother. “The first time I came here (The HAY Center), my brother was actually the one who opened the door for me. He was stuck. He looked so different it was hard to believe it was him.” Gracie had not seen her brothers in more than five years, and within days found both of her brothers.

“They helped me lots.”

While at the HAY Center, Gracie has participated in many workshops and activities. She participated in a paid internship, a foster parent training conference, youth leadership program, tuition assistance, and housing/food assistance to name just a few. “It wasn’t all about the benefits, it was all the encouragement which kept me waking up at 5:00 am to make it through school. They really helped me with lots of stuff. You don’t have nobody out there to help you – so this center is the help when I really need it.”

The Future

Gracie has already graduated from college with her certificate in Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy. From here she plans to continue her medical education. One day her dream is to help out other children by opening homes for them.
2016-01-18T18:34:01+00:00
Gracie’s Journey This Hispanic young lady has been through many ordeals in her 18 years. Yet somehow she can reflect back on the past and still giggle. Gracie came into foster age at age 13 for the second time. She experienced eight years of physical abuse at the hands of her family. After being beaten by a two-by-four, she fled to a neighbor’s house, then on to the police department, and then by ambulance to the hospital. The next day she was placed in a group home in Freeport. Unfortunately the aftereffects of abuse continued to haunt Gracie. She became suicidal, self-mutilating, and often ran away. “I was what you call the troubled child.” Gracie lived in so many places she can’t remember them all, but knew it was more than ten placements, not counting several hospitalizations. “I’ve been to just about every school there is.” This includes five different high schools. Yet still there’s determination in Gracie, and she graduated high school. Becoming an Adult By the time Gracie was 18, she was working as a waitress by night and going to school during the days. “I was so tired all of the time – sometimes I wanted to quit.” She was working her way through a local college to earn a certification in Medical Assisting when she decided to stop by the county shelter and show her previous case workers that she was doing something positive with her life. “Mr. T. told me about the HAY Center … I thought if CPS kids are going to be there that maybe I could find my brother.” “Aren’t you going to give me a hug?” Gracie found her way over to the HAY Center and was greeted at the door by whom else but her brother. “The first time I...

Xavier, age 22

Xavier’s Journey

When asked what lasting words he’d pass on to youth in the foster care system, Xavier reflects on his journey from anger and despair to hope and forgiveness, breathes deeply, and offers these words of inspiration. “Keep moving on – it’s hard – you even want to give up, I know I did. Just have the decency to care for yourself”.

The Journey Begins

 “The police came and took my mother away. I still remember calling for her. My younger sister and I got put into the back of a police car and taken to the hospital then on to a foster home. It happened so fast – we really didn’t know what was going on.” Xavier entered the foster care system at age 7, and was first placed in a family foster home. “I really had it good there. Cake and ice cream and even a birthday party at McDonalds. But I was so angry – they didn’t know how to control me, so I got moved to a program.” 

On the Move

During the time Xavier was in care he moved through 18 different group homes and programs. He lost track of how many schools he was in – but he remembers 5 different high schools. “It’s hard to cope not having your mother or family. I got into a lot of trouble – lots of anger.” To help control his behavior the State put him on various medications. “I was taking about six different meds a day. I had drool falling out of my mouth and was falling asleep on my desk at school.”

Moving Out

Xavier’s driving motivation was to get out of CPS as soon as he turned 18. “I turned 18 and just left. First I went to live with a friend for a couple of months. Then I just kinda bounced around from place to place for a year.”

The Road Takes a Positive Turn

“My PAL worker told me about a new place, the HAY Center. It was going to be a place for youth and alumni (former foster youth), to hang out, eat, and get a chance to succeed. I was hoping it would be something different from CPS.” Xavier found the HAY Center as did many of his former foster brothers and sisters. “I saw a lot of my old friends. It gave me a chance to ask for forgiveness for things that happened while we were in care. It helped me rekindle my relations with friends I had before.” While at the HAY Center, Xavier participated in the AIM Group (Alumni Impacting Many), a youth/alumni advocacy group, cooking classes, various events, and workshops. He even enrolled in college through one of the Center’s college days. “The HAY Center was and is a big part of my life. I don’t know what I would have done if they weren’t there. It’s kinda like a home away from home.”

The Road Ahead

“I want to be the very best I can be! When they call me Doctor Johnson, I want to know I’ve worked hard for it, and earned it.” Xavier, now age 22, has earned his associate degree in applied sciences, and is planning to transfer to either Texas State University or the University of Houston. His dream is to become an Anthropologist, travel the world, and one day host his own television documentary on various cultures

 
2015-10-29T15:21:59+00:00
Xavier’s Journey When asked what lasting words he’d pass on to youth in the foster care system, Xavier reflects on his journey from anger and despair to hope and forgiveness, breathes deeply, and offers these words of inspiration. “Keep moving on – it’s hard – you even want to give up, I know I did. Just have the decency to care for yourself”. The Journey Begins  “The police came and took my mother away. I still remember calling for her. My younger sister and I got put into the back of a police car and taken to the hospital then on to a foster home. It happened so fast – we really didn’t know what was going on.” Xavier entered the foster care system at age 7, and was first placed in a family foster home. “I really had it good there. Cake and ice cream and even a birthday party at McDonalds. But I was so angry – they didn’t know how to control me, so I got moved to a program.”  On the Move During the time Xavier was in care he moved through 18 different group homes and programs. He lost track of how many schools he was in – but he remembers 5 different high schools. “It’s hard to cope not having your mother or family. I got into a lot of trouble – lots of anger.” To help control his behavior the State put him on various medications. “I was taking about six different meds a day. I had drool falling out of my mouth and was falling asleep on my desk at school.” Moving Out Xavier’s driving motivation was to get out of CPS as soon as he turned 18. “I turned 18 and just left. First I went to live with a friend...