As a Family Advocate and the primary person to engage with a child when they arrive for the first time at the National Children’s Advocacy Center, Josie works hard to always have an outwardly calm, reassuring demeanor no matter what she sees and hears. She is often the only calm in the storm for a child and their caregiver. But on that Tuesday, sitting with a slight, pale 12-year-old little girl named Sherilyn and her social worker, Josie’s office felt a bit claustrophobic and suddenly dark. Josie kept up her easy chatter, all the while wondering, “What is the first thing, the right thing, the best thing I can do for Sherilyn?”
Sherilyn had arrived at the NCAC following complaints to the school nurse of stomach cramps and upon examination, the nurse discovered the unimaginable – Sherilyn was pregnant – in fact, she was 7 months pregnant. When her mom and grandparents were contacted by the school, they washed their hands of her, claiming Sherilyn was promiscuous and she had been “up to no-good” with a neighbor. Suddenly, this 12-year-old little girl was alone in the world, with only her school backpack and the clothes she was wearing. She was in shock, having had no idea that she was carrying a baby or what her future might hold.
What followed was bother heart-wrenching and heart-warming, certainly unimaginable on many levels. Sherilyn participated in a Forensic Interview but refused to share any details about how she became pregnant. She also refused to discuss anything about her home life – she had been abandoned by her family and shew as turning inward to protect her tender 12-year-old heart.
While Sherilyn was being interviewed, Josie and the DHR social worker procured clothes and personal items for her, they found a foster family that welcomed teen moms in crisis, and they reassured her that she was not alone, she would be cared for, and she would be loved. She went on to receive medical care with special plans made to accommodate a 12-year-old mom-to-be, she began to participate in therapy where she finally revealed that her stepfather had been sexually assaulting her for over a year.
Today, Sherilyn continues to be a full participant in her healing journey with her therapist, her extended support team at the NCAC, and her foster mom. Her baby is healthy and growing in a safe and loving environment. And her abuser, her stepfather is in jail.
One of the most important members of her support team is YOU, as a donor. Your support makes Sherilyn’s care, recovery, and her future possible. When you support Sherilyn and the other children of our community, you are the embodiment of their hope for a bright future. Hope starts here. Hope starts with YOU.
Will you make a gift in honor and support of Sherilyn, and all the children in need of your support?
Every gift makes a difference. Every gift changes a child’s life. Give the gift of hope now.