Ashley* was once an only child living in a loving home. Her mom was sick with diabetes and had lost her leg to the disease when Ashley was four. Ashley was a caring little girl who used to bring flowers from the yard to make her mom feel better. Even though Ashley herself has seizures and health problems, she always cared for others first.
This loving family life came to an end when Ashley’ mom died when she was 11, and Ashley went to live with her aunt. Her aunt blamed Ashley for her mother’s death and told her that regularly. Ashley asked to leave that toxic home and came to live at the Children’s Home when she was 18 years old.
Ashley says that since coming to the Children’s Home, she has come out of her shell and remembered the friendly, caring person she truly is. She has learned real-world skills like paying bills and cooking meals as well as managing her seizures. Ashley is studying web design and dreams of owning her own business one day. She also wants to give back to others by helping people with seizure disorders.
Ashley says that one of the best things about UMCH is the many people who encourage her. One time when she was receiving a lot of encouragement, she sat down and wrote this poem. This describes how Ashley feels about her friends and her God.
“I feel thankful.
I feel grateful.
Your presence around me is filled with your joyful praises.
I am thankful that you let me live another day.
I am grateful that I have people that love and care about me.
My love for you is everlasting.
I am thankful.
I am grateful.
I am a child of the Most High God.
I am blessed.”
This poem also describes the way the Children’s Home feels about the people who help us change lives. We feel blessed by you, as does Ashley and all the other children and youth like her who have been changed by this ministry. Thank you for all you do to bless us.
To keep blessing Ashley and other youth like her, click here to make an online donation today.
When Sara* came to live in one of our foster homes, she was a two-year-old who was functioning much like a nine-month-old. She was very reluctant to engage with anyone. She did not want to be held, played with, or even spoken to. Sara spent most of her time huddled in the corner of a room, frightened by any attempt to interact. She showed her displeasure by her signature high-pitched scream. This was about the only noise that Sara made. She was not verbal, and her extent of play was chewing on toys and books. At this point, it was undetermined whether she had a diagnosable disorder such as autism, or if her delays were the result of neglect.
We worked closely with Sara’s foster mother to find resources to meet Sara’s immediate needs. Sara began physical, speech and occupational therapy within the first week of moving into her new home. The foster mother was able to arrange these therapies to occur in the home to allow Sara to feel more comfortable.
It took several months of therapy, and continued interaction with her foster family, but Sara began to open up.
Sara was slowly becoming a toddler. She was smiling, laughing and even asking to be held. At each monthly home visit, the UMCH worker noticed great improvements. Sara still could not speak many words, but she could communicate through some sign language (thanks to her foster mother) and hand gestures. Within a few months, she was a giggling, happy and playful child.
Due to her continued speech delays and noticeable learning disabilities, Sara was assessed and diagnosed with autism. However, socially, she was a completely different child from when she initially came into the Children’s Home foster program.
Last year Sara was reunited with her birth father. After a year and a half with her foster family and UMCH by her side, Sara had progressed into an active three-year-old little girl.
Sara’s story could have been very different. But because people like you care, we were able to create a support system with our foster parents, therapists and others, to give Sara the fresh start she needed. In the words of Sara’s UMCH social worker, “I have no doubt that because the UMCH ministry exists, she will continue to grow to be an engaging and beautiful young lady.”
To help children like Sara find a fresh start in a safe and loving foster home, click here to make a donation online today.
*Names changed to protect clients’ privacy.