Helping Teens Fight for Their Future
Tony entered foster care just days after his 17th birthday. He was living with his mother and stepfather in a home riddled with domestic violence.
Sadly, Tony’s foster home was not really a family to him. He was like a lodger being provided a place to live and food to eat, but no emotional support. This situation was alarming to his volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), who quickly realized that Tony did not have the support of any caring adult.
Tony’s CASA was not going to let his future be ignored. She would fight for him, she would persuade him to fight for himself, and she would not let him become a statistic.
The CASA helped Tony complete his financial applications, she helped him complete his college application, she took him to visit colleges, and she told him that she believed in him. He graduated high school and will be attending community college.
Without the CASA’s involvement and fighting spirit, supported through donations to Rappahannock United Way, Tony may have become another one of Virginia’s statistics. Without CASA’s involvement he may have been released from foster care, become homeless, and would likely have dropped out of school just three months shy of graduation. With the help from this Rappahannock United Way funded program, Tony has proven to others that he is not one to give up on and now sees value within himself and the has the strength to become visible.
When she entered foster care, Amelia was a 15 year-old who had endured a lifetime of abuse and instability. With each of her mother’s new boyfriends came a move to a new home, each progressively worse than the previous and riddled with the nightmare of violence and substance abuse.
Amelia told her volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), through a program funded by Rappahannock United Way, that with each move her mother would promise a new beginning. Unfortunately, each was just another chapter in her mother’s book of alcoholism and mental illness.
As Amelia’s mother slipped deeper into mental illness, the domestic violence between her mom and the boyfriend became a daily frightening occurrence. As time went on, Amelia became the caretaker of her baby sister and the target of the boyfriend’s rage. When she could bear it no more, she told authorities. When the police came to her home, they found a desperate Amelia hiding under a filthy trailer as her mother ranted around the yard in psychiatric despair. Amelia did not cry as she was separated from her little sister and taken away to live in a home with strangers.
Her CASA showed interest in Amelia. They went places together, they talked about school, friends, life, and plans for the future. Her CASA took Amelia to court and told the judge about how Amelia felt about her mother, about living in a foster home that was not right for her, and about her plans to go to college. Amelia told her CASA that she was the first person to ever really get to know her.
Because of Rappahannock United Way’s funded programs like CASA, hundreds of children and adults will receive counseling and therapy that will help them find new hope and confidence for their future.