At age 18, Vanessa has demonstrated a tremendous amount of resilience and inner strength in the face of trauma. Her mom died in a tragic car accident when she was 12 years old. Her father remarried, and became distant. Later, when he became abusive, Vanessa and her younger sister were placed in foster care.
Despite so much loss, Vanessa thrived in high school. She got involved in athletics (track, cross country, volleyball, softball, and basketball) and in numerous student clubs, spending about “90% of her time” at school. Immersing herself in activities allowed her to leave her problems behind and to focus on strengthening herself, she says. Vanessa found the most support and solace in JROTC, which she credits with teaching her “good things: strength, how to work with others, respect, how to be a leader.”
The transition out of foster care proved to be more challenging than Vanessa expected. Despite her high degree of self-sufficiency, she was not yet ready to leave. She was especially unwilling to leave her younger sister behind, and petitioned to become her sister’s legal guardian. Due to their proximity in age, the request was denied, a blow to Vanessa. She turned to her maternal aunt, her church community and her B:E case manager for support during this difficult transitional time.
Vanessa now lives with her aunt and is in her second year of college. She sees her sister frequently. Vanessa says working with B:E is more than just helpful – it’s also motivating and inspiring. “I want to work with youth, those who have problems, to help them become something in life. If I can help them, they can change, and have a beautiful future.”