I Remember Where I Was….

I remember specifically where I was on September 11, 2001 when the twin towers fell.  I remember the minute the Challenger exploded.  A lot of people I know can tell me specifically where they were when Kennedy was assassinated.  Significant times in our lives have an impact and we mark that time in our memory.  I also remember that time when our work here at Boys and Girls Homes really hit home for me.  It had an impact and it is imbedded in my memory.

Jessica was turning 16.  She made it through the steps to get her learner’s permit to drive but needed some time behind the wheelStudent driver before she could get her Driver’s License.  I offered to ride with her for a few days.  We spent 2 – 3 hours each day driving all around Columbus and New Hanover Counties.  She was actually a very conscientious driver so I began to relax as we made our way through the main highways and back roads.  She was easy to talk to.  Our initial conversations were mostly small talk about nothing really significant.  As the miles rolled along, however, we began to discuss topics of a more personal nature.  She opened up and began to share with me the tragedies of her childhood.  She described the physical abuse she endured.  She shared with a tear in her eye of the sexual abuse she was subjected to.  She talked about the challenges she faced when she transitioned to a foster home – and then again as she transitioned to Boys and Girls Homes.  As we drove, she took me by her first foster home and talked about the special bond she had with her foster mother there.  She gave me a glimpse inside the type of children that we serve on a daily basis.

Jessica became a great ambassador for our work here at B&GH.  As I watched her being interviewed for a promotional video several years later, she talked about how B&GH was a last resort for her, but it should have been the first resort. 

I jumped at the opportunity to ride along with Jessica thinking that I could in some small way have an impact on her and help her reach a special milestone in her life.  In turn, it was she that had a significant impact on me.  She helped me to see personally the challenges that our residents face and what a difference Boys and Girls Homes is making in their lives.  Jessica is a better person for the time she spent here and I am a better person for the time she spent with me while she was here. 

Ray Cockrell is the Vice President for Development at Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

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