This month we are highlighting Aging Out Youth and our blog comes from Shelly Bokman, DTCRA Regional Leader and Founder of a local non-profit Blossom Place. The following story highlights Melissa’s (pictured above) experience of success thanks to the equipping and support she found as she transitioned out of foster care.
“Melissa grew up in Richmond, while her family was struggling to make ends meet she was sucked into the local drug culture at the age of 10. After several trips to juvenile hall, where she sadly spent her 16th birthday, she was placed in foster care and moved to a Koinonia group home in Loomis where she tackled her substance abuse issues. Shortly after turning 18 she graduated from their program and was free to decide where and how to live her life.
She chose to come to Blossom Place, a local organization that provides safe, affordable housing and support to girls aging out of foster care. She was nervous about staying clean and sober, and being able to support herself. But Melissa jumped right in and found a job at In-N-Out Burger. She took advantage of weekly yoga classes Blossom offered to manage stress. Melissa declared from her arrival that she hated to cook, but there was just one problem—she loved to eat, especially the Nicaraguan dishes of her family. So, she proceeded to learn to budget, plan meals and grocery shop, often preparing delicious meals for all the Blossom girls. Melissa also got her drivers permit and began learning to drive while she was saving money for a car. After 6 months at Blossom she was able to get her driver’s license, buy her first car, and meet all of the requirements to be removed from probation! This also allowed her to now apply to the California Conservation Corp (CCC) where she could get on-the-job training to achieve her dream of being a firefighter. Melissa has now been working at the CCC for several months, was just promoted to a leadership position and on March 1st she moved into her own apartment.”
Having that year of transition with support and encouragement from Blossom staff and other girls in similar situations has not only equipped Melissa for success but given her a network of people to turn to as she matures and continues to tackle life’s challenges. Because Melissa was surrounded by people who were willing to take the time to shore up her weaker areas, she is now a woman who has confidence to create a healthy, happy life for herself.