A Home For Good
Evansville IN & Foster Care
Evansville, IN was founded in 1812 by Hugh McGary. He named our city after Col. Robert M. Evans. It was formed following the war of 1812. Information, such as that contained above, and detailed in the magazine to the right, is easy to find. But, the history of foster care in Evansville, IN seemingly began in 2015, as there is no historical documentation of the institution in published historical books, logs etc. The less you know about something the less likely you are to support it, nor would you be expected to. After all, what would you say in support of it, if you have no working knowledge of it? Evansville is no stranger to the institution of foster care. In fact, the two have a history that spans nearly 149 years.
In the institution of Foster Care, change is sometimes slow to come. Not so much because there is a lack of willingness, but because there is a lack of knowledge about it and scant resources to help it along. So, I began learning about the place I called home once I transitioned out, so that I could develop the necessary resources to effect change in a positive way. I committed myself to becoming the solution, and changing society’s belief of what a foster kid could do and be.
Photo credit: Hillcrest Washington Youth Home
In 1871 a home on the city’s west side of town was deeded for use as an orphanage. It was called Hillcrest, because the home literally sat atop the crest of a hill. In 1952, new buildings were constructed and operated by what was, at the time, called the Vanderburgh County Department of Public Welfare. It would later be known as the the Department of Child Services, or DCS. The facilities are currently operated by the Hillcrest and Southwestern Indiana Mental Health Foundation Inc.
The name and ownership operation may have changed, but I remember it as my home. I believe the home has come a long way since I was a resident there. It’s nicer now and the staff certainly looks different. The troubling thing about institutional foster care, is just that.
I was in several institutional settings and can say that Hillcrest was, by far, the best, but not every place is Hillcrest.
Life In Foster Care
I never thought that I would achieve a forever home. In fact, I never did, well not in the sense that you would think. People have the misguided belief in thinking that children don’t remember much of their childhood. They think that the memories begin forming at around age five. That is a myth. Children can remember being held by their parents as babies. Children can remember hiding under their beds when they were one or two. The point is, children remember. But I am the rare exception to that rule. I have no recollection of any childhood memories. I literally have no memory of life, until I was five and a half. I’ve been told that is due to severe trauma and is my brains way of protecting me from whatever happened to cause me to completely forget that I existed before the age of five. That is why I look so often at the picture to the right. I have no memory of that little girl. That’s me, but I don’t ever remember it being so. It is, in fact, the only picture I possess of myself as a child. It is, to my knowledge, the only one in existence. The back of it says that I was 1 1/2 when the photo was taken.
As I became older, I saw myself through the eyes of those entrusted to take care of me, because they were the only family I had. After an endless stream of foster homes, group homes and orphanages and schools, and years of rapes, torture and beatings, I ended up hating myself, the world and foster care. I hated life period. I hated it so much that I attempted suicide in a bid to leave behind the misery that was life as I knew it to be. The truth is, being a foster kid is hard.
When I was thirteen I made a deal with God. It came about after a horrific beating I received at the hands of my foster mother at the time. I’d been told to wash the dishes. I did. I forgot to wash a spoon or something. That woman beat me to within an inch of my life. I decided that I’d had it. I was tired of being beaten, smacked, kicked, spit on, tortured, raped, bullied and being treated as if I had no right to breath. I had but one thought that night. I was done with this life. After everyone was asleep, I went to the kitchen and got a butcher knife and went down to the basement. I sat on the floor, rocking back and forth and crying for my mama. My hands began to shake badly, and I couldn’t cut my arm. I cried so hard that I literally could not see. That’s when I made the deal with God. The deal was this, if he allowed me to live then I promised to spend the rest of my time here helping and saving kids in foster care. Oddly enough, my hands stopped shaking and my vision cleared.
Foster Care In The US Inc.
It’s been a long hard road since that day. My determination to not end up as just another statistic, led me down a road that no GPS would have ever led me down. Still, it was my road, and designed with one purpose in mind, to fulfill the promise I made to God when he spared my life at the age of 13. So, what became of that foster kid?
Since that day I have been hard at work writing, researching and learning all that I can about the institution of foster care. I’ve written books, college courses, an autobiography that caught the attention of Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, lived in more places than I can count, hung out with Catherine Crier and inspired more than 3,000 women at the Evansville Women’s Conference in 2008, survived homelessness, became an Amazon.com Best Selling Author, got advice from author Toni Morrison, became a model and actor, survived domestic violence and cancer. No, the road to me has not been an easy one, but its been absolutely amazing.
From that life and all the knowledge and research came Foster Care In The US Inc. What exactly is it? Foster Care In The US mission is to improve the outcomes of transitional foster care youth. My organization provides the resources to youth today, that have been absent for more than 149 years. We provide housing assistance, food, clothing, educational assistance, hands-on life skills education, transportation and we do it all from an actual home, not an institution. Why? If God can do what he did for me, imagine what he can do for youth exactly like me. Imagine how they will turn out. Imagine what they will build, and the lives that they will impact. Imagine the change they will effect on the foster care system.
A Home For Good
What does the future of foster care look like? It looks exactly like this, a home where youth can learn, grow, are fed, taken care of and where there is so much love that it can literally be felt before you enter it. This was absent in my life, all of my life in fact. I have always wanted a house full of kids, and this home has a long foster care history. It has taken the better part of 149, heartache, heartbreak, abuse, homelessness, torture and prayer to get here.
A Home For Good is where 5-youth between the ages of 18-21 will have their own room, learn to cook, finish their education, volunteer for nonprofits all over the Tri-state, get a job and one day move out into their own forever home. This is how foster care should be. This is how it was meant to be. This is what the future of it will be in Evansville, IN, and it begins with you and me.
Now you know a bit more about foster care. With love and community support, we turn out more than ok, we turn out like you.
f you would like to help support A Home For Good click here