*To protect the children in our program, names and photographs do not represent the people in this story.

 

PAMELA & SUSAN

Pamela was only 2 1/2 years old when she first came into the system. As her mother struggled with substance abuse, Pamela would find herself in and out of foster homes. At age 7, Pamela was moving from place to place with her mother and sleeping in the back of a cold U-haul trailer. One evening while camping in a parking lot, the police came, arrested her mother and placed Pamela in the back of a squad car. She watched as her mother faded away as the car drove off.

 

Pamela’s lack of stable home life continued when she returned to foster care and was moved from home to home, some for a few days, some for a few weeks. She had an especially traumatic foster home experience where she was living in a three-bedroom trailer with as many as 16 children, including several infants. She was living without basic necessities, diapering and caring for babies, and enduring cruel punishments. The family was investigated but denied any abuse, and because Pamela had complained, she was marked a troublemaker and was sent to live in a shelter.

 

Pamela’s life began to change when she was assigned Susan as her CASA at age 8. Susan worked to gain her trust knowing that after the unimaginable hardships Pamela had endured, she would have a difficult time trusting anyone. After two years of working together, Susan was able to use Pamela’s stories about her abusive foster home to help have it shut down. That experience demonstrated to Pamela that she and her voice mattered – that she could make a difference.

 

“I was so fearful that she would become discouraged. So almost every visit, I brought a story from a newspaper or magazine about a young person who was able to overcome the worst. The newspaper clippings became a running joke between us – Pamela says that she has kept every one of them.” Susan

 

With her CASA, Pamela found safety, stability and hope for the future. She was able to go to school, graduate and went on to college after earning a four-year scholarship. She hopes to become an American ambassador. Susan couldn’t be more proud of Pamela’s progress and is happy she will be using her voice to make a difference in the world.

 

To hear Pamela’s story and others, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCTaWH1sQPI