November 2, 2014
To whom it may concern:
On June 24th, 2004 as my caseworker pulled into the driveway of Oak Haven, I felt my life was over. In the backseat, my two year old daughter slept as if our lives weren’t completely changing. I was terrified, sad, and angry; I was extremely frustrated that “home” wasn’t even an option. In my 16 year old frame of mind I was a good mom, better yet I was the Best mom. Looking back now, ten years later, I knew nothing. I was a bull-headed, disrespectful, know-it all 16 year old with a two year old little girl.
My story leading up to Oak Haven was full of turmoil. My parents always struggled to keep a roof over our heads and food in the cabinets, but they loved me. There wasn’t abuse, but there was never discipline, there was never parenting. For most my life I felt I had to parent my parents, who were into drugs and alcohol abuse. At 13 I found myself pregnant, alone in the world. Every dream of getting out of the poverty stricken environment I lived in was gone. By 16 I was on drugs living with my parents in a motel, not enrolled in school, and absolutely no hopes for the future. Then on an early April morning everything changed. I was arrested, for drugs, and sent to YDC. From that point on my life completely changed. After spending weeks in YDC, then weeks in foster care, away from my daughter, we finally went to court. The judge said I could remain in my parent’s care; however my daughter would have to remain in the custody of the state. At that moment I felt the tears start rolling down my face, and begged the judge to reconsider. After the explanation of why I could not take my daughter home, I begged for her to let me go with my child. The judge explained to me that foster homes rarely take mothers with children, I was willing to take the risk. That is when my caseworker found our saving grace, Oak Haven.
Entering Oak Haven was a difficult time. To begin with it was 2 hours away from my home. I still didn’t agree with the fact that any of this was happening. To put it lightly I was definitely a hard case. I thought I knew everything, and surely didn’t want these strangers telling me what to do. I didn’t want them telling me how to parent my daughter because like I said before, I was the world’s best mom…
In the twenty seven and half months to follow I would change and grow into a highly respectable woman. It wasn’t until at least two years in, did I realize that this had been the best thing that could have ever happened to me and my daughter.
Had it not been for the opportunity to live at OH, I have no idea where or who I’d be today. I can tell you though who I grew into, and the mother that the staff at Oak Haven taught me how to be. On May 26th, 2006 I stood in front of 1,500 people and gave the senior speech at my graduation from High School. The staff at Oak Haven made it possible for me to graduate on time with honors and at the top of my class. I received two scholarships, made the Toast of the Town, and even ended up on the front page of the Dalton newspaper. Because of the hardships I had overcome I was able to speak at G-CAPP conventions, be on a talk show, and show the state of Georgia what exactly Oak Haven was for.
My experience at Oak Haven changed my life and the life of my daughter. I will be eternally grateful to the staff and for the sponsors who donated to Oak Haven. Today as a 26 year old mother of three, an almost college graduate (I graduate in March), I am proud. I am proud of the woman, mother and wife I grew into. Looking back, I can’t believe this is my story. It’s hard to think that this is my story. I sometimes forget. However when I do think about it, the one thing I know is my life, my family, and the person I am today is all credited to the 1920 6-bedroom house with the amazing staff called Oak Haven.