The Invisible Girl

Sep 08, 2022 - In the News

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Nancy noticed LaToya’s broken arm on the first day of school. On this exciting morning for her peers, the eight-year-old was solemn. She wore clothes that didn’t fit and hid cafeteria food in her desk.


“I knew then, that baby needed someone to look out for her,” says Nancy, who works part-time as a PCHAS mentor. “I called her daddy and enrolled her in the mentoring program.”


Actually, LaToya did have people looking out for her, just not enough of them. When the weather turned chilly, a teenage sister’s sweatshirt kept her warm. Her dad or aunt always walked her to and from school. But by Christmas break, Daddy passed away and the aunt moved out of town. In the classroom and on the playground, LaToya seemed invisible. Some weeks, she didn’t go to school at all.


Nancy remembers that LaToya “wouldn’t open up much. But every week I gave her one-on-one attention. Sometimes we went sledding, made crafts or played soccer. During spring break, I took LaToya to the zoo. I coached her on good hygiene and I encouraged her. Gradually, she did more of the talking.”


LaToya’s mom continued to be unreliable in many ways. A school counselor suspected she was suffering from alcohol addiction and alerted Nancy when the house’s utilities were shut off. Then, a guest in the house died of a drug overdose. Law enforcement removed LaToya and her sister from the only home she knew. Today, they live with a friend’s parent who is earning a license to foster them.


LaToya has started fourth grade. She wears clean clothes that fit. Her attendance is regular and her grades are improving. She won’t say much about her sad feelings, but she does interact more. She is seen.


“I have been the only constant in her life during these last two years,” Nancy comments. “Having someone show up for her and really see her has changed her in a big way. She is actually starting to smile now.”


PCHAS trains and pays its mentors. There is no charge to families. For information about becoming a part-time mentor, or to refer a child ages 5-19 to the program, call 800-888-1904 or contact us online.


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