I’m Ms. Vanessa. The Children’s Center has made a big difference to my family. I don’t know what I would do without it. This is my story:

My niece struggled raising her children. Her oldest daughter passed away three years ago, at age 12. That same year, one of her six-month old twins died of malnutrition. Drinking kept her from being the mother her children needed. All of her children were taken from her by Child Protective Services. I knew the children wouldn’t stay together in the system. So I said I would take six of them.

My daughter took the 11-year old girl. At the time she was old enough to know what was going on in her family. She was angry to be stripped from her mother. Her father just stopped coming around and she was a big daddy’s girl.

These kids have been through a lot. The Children’s Center has helped us when we needed it the most. Even me. I’ve learned I don’t have to do it alone.

The oldest boy is now ten. It’s taken him a while to catch on, but I believe he’ll get there eventually. He’s a sweetheart and loves to give hugs. The first time I went to change his bed sheet, I found hundreds of food wrappers. He was hoarding food. I told him, “You don’t have to do that anymore. I won’t let you go hungry.”

Now, the younger children call me mommy and the older children call me Grandma. One of the older girls tries to help me care for the young ones. She says, “I’m going to be the best big sister – because I had the best big sister until she passed away.” But I tell her, “It’s okay to help me, but your job is to be a kid.”  One of the other older girls made me a Mother’s Day card the first year after leaving her mother. Here’s what she wrote:

I am going to let you know some of the reasons that I love you.

  • I love you is because you love us all.
  • I love you is the way you care about me.
  • I love you is the way you support me.
  • I love you is because you take care of us.
  • I love you is because you give me a place to live.
  • I love you is because the way you buy us food.
  • I love you is because you buy me clothes.
  • I love you is because you bought us beds.
  • I love you is the way you take us places.
  • I love you is the way you put me in school to learn.

I went through a whole box of tissues reading that card.

I’ll turn 61 this year. I just pray the Lord will let me live long enough to see these children grow up. And to have the wisdom to accept all the help The Children’s Center has to offer.

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