Over the last ten years I have had the honor and pleasure of telling my story of how Wheeling Crittenton Services helped a young girl who felt no one loved her and felt no one would defend her blossomed into a woman… However that woman was so afraid. Afraid to love, afraid to live and afraid even as I stood there telling my story that I was not good enough. The last seven years have been a journey for me. From the time that I first addressed my audience in Washington DC at the 125th celebration, I wanted to know the answer “How do I move beyond survival; how do I live?” The truth of the matter was my family was no longer abusive they very much loved and supported me in spite of the pain that my speeches revealed. The child that I birthed at 17 years old was happy, successful and wise beyond her years. I truly was blessed, but I was stuck in a cycle of being a victim and worse a “survivor.” I was sick of surviving. When survivors are rescued from islands, they don’t continue in their survival mode. They enjoy all that life can give them. I wanted to live my life to the fullest like others who did not identify with a past like my own.
The more I told my story, the more it changed. At first I began revealing more of the brutal details and slowly those details began to shift to focus on what was important, and that was, and is, the end result. That end result was...The perpetrators in my life made their retribution and began to deal with the hurt and the pain they experienced as children. I began to love myself and realize that I was wonderfully and fearfully made by God. I began to realize that I was created for a purpose and it was time for me to advocate for women and children and focus on everything that turned out right as a result of the services I received from Crittenton. As a result, I began calling others to action to donate their resources. Once again, because of Crittenton, my life was changing. I was living life, and telling my story did more than all of the years of therapy combined. I felt empowered.
My proudest moment occurred three years ago when my daughter graduated from high school. Earlier that year, she had the opportunity to speak at a congressional caucus to advocate for children 0-3. She met Congresswoman Rosa Delaro and was so moved, she decided she wanted to run for public office as an adult, and enrolled at Weber State University as a political science major. Last year she approached me with fear and trepidation, revealing she no longer wanted to pursue a four year degree at the university. She instead wanted to own her own business and pursue cosmetology, and hair design. I let her know regardless of wherever she chooses to spread her wings I support her completely.
I currently work at one of the top 20 best places to work on Fortune’s 100 list, CompHealth, a division of CHG Healthcare, serve on the ministry staff at my local church which includes ensuring the needs of our women are addressed and met within our congregation. Last September I married the love of my life. Today I have found a new excitement as I join with Crittenton once again to launch BOLD! The potential we have is exponentially greater than any of my forerunners. I am certain Charles Crittenton would be amazed at how far his mission has come and it will only continue.
My life continues to get better day after day. Not because I do not have challenges and trials, and not because I don’t make mistakes. It is better because I know my worth and better because I know that no matter what comes my way, it is temporary. If I just hold on another day something will change. I know I am loved by God and he is the only one that truly matters with that knowledge I know I can conquer anything.