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Shauntel holds her daughter, Daisy, at PCHAS's Columbia luncheon.
Former PCHAS client Shauntel shares about her journey to PCHAS and how her time in the Transitional Living Program prepared her to be an independent adult.
When I was little, even before I started kindergarten, my dad was physically abusive to me and my mom. There were times I called the police. There were times I told my dad to give me a beating instead of my little brothers, since I could take it better. We moved out with my mom when I was six. By the time I was in middle school, my mom was abusive, too, and I ran away. After two days, the police found me and a judge placed us kids with foster families. Getting separated from my brothers was hard, but it was the only way to get out of there.
My foster family was really good to me. They tried to help me, but they didn’t know how. I had depression and PTSD, and I kept hurting myself and running away. So as a young teenager I went into a girls’ home and then another residential place for a total of two and a half years. My depression got worse and people called me “out of control.” Honestly, I was trying to end my life on a daily basis. We tried a lot of different medications until, finally, one worked. I was able to live with my mom again…but that didn’t last. I went back to foster care.
I can’t even remember how many times I got moved. It seemed like as soon as I got adjusted I would get moved again. I felt like no one loved me or even wanted me around.
It was in August—a hot, sticky day—when I moved into the PCHAS home in Columbia. I was 17, a senior in high school, but didn’t know how I was going to graduate. There were four or five other teenaged girls in the house in Columbia. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere.
Well, right away I tried to get kicked out, but I couldn’t. Darla Ortman was the PCHAS manager running the house and she just wouldn’t give up on me. Even though I was always looking for trouble, she said I had potential. She encouraged me to stay in school, not because I should, but because graduating would help me live the life I really wanted to live. And truly, I did want to live.
Shauntel and Darla Ortman
So with help from PCHAS, I graduated. I had part-time jobs and found out about keeping a budget. I even started college. When I took a break from school, Darla knew I was interested in medicine and helped me find a job as a nurse’s aide. Now I am 22. I’m close to earning my associate’s degree, and that will get me an even better job.
PCHAS helped me learn how to have healthy relationships. I’m happy to say that now I have been with my fiancée for about three years. We have a beautiful baby, Daisy, and we are planning to buy a house. So, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your past has given you. It’s what you do with your past that will define the person you become.
The Transitional Living Program helps young women bridge the gap between foster care and living independently. Our hope is that the children we serve will successfully complete their education, find gainful employment, move into their own homes and live successful, independent and productive lives.