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Overcoming Loss, Tracey’s Light Shines Bright

September 25, 2006

By W. James Edminson

Tracey brings a small tattered picture from her room. She holds it in the palm of her hand afraid to damage it. Looking at the picture, she holds it close to her face. The irregular edges and faded colors do not convey its worth to the seventeen-year-old girl. It is a treasure. It is one of the few pictures she has of her late mother.

Tracey solemnly remembers her mother’s illness, “I miss her, but I know it is better for her. She was in such pain.”

After her mother’s death, it was hard to adjust and deal with the loss. Her pain was confusing. For the quiet, petite teen, the pain almost became unbearable. Her hurt turned into anger.

It was difficult for those around her, too. Living with her brother and his wife was a blessing, but with all of their love, it was not enough to meet Tracey’s emotional needs.

She needed help.

Tracey has lived at Odum Home in Pembroke for three years. From the beginning she saw her new home as a good thing. “Everyone has always made me feel at home. It was easy to adjust.” It’s been easy to adjust, but it’s not been “easy.”

Tracey has worked hard strengthening her relationship with her brother who is in the Army and serving in Kuwait.

She has worked hard at dealing with the trauma in her life and with sharing her feelings.

“Tracey has come a long way in developing her coping skills,” senior child care worker Kathy Locklear says. Locklear has been one of Tracey’s caregivers for most of her time at Odum Home.

Locklear calls Tracey a “success story.” She believes Tracey has thrived in the Odum Home setting. She says Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) provides the structure and boundaries that allow children to thrive.

“We help children to meet personal goals while still allowing them to be children,” Locklear says.

But Tracey credits her new life to something else. “The most significant thing about living here is the people – people like Ms. Kathy are an inspiration,” she says. “They all care about me. They changed my life.”

Tracey has touched Locklear’s life, too. “All of us have good and bad days,” Locklear reflects. “Tracey has a way of making all my days better with just her smile.”

Today, the rising senior sees herself as a stronger person. She dreams of becoming independent. She dreams of having her own family and building a home where communication will be the priority. She dreams of giving back and making a difference in the lives of others.

Tracey has her sights set on the business world. She worked in the Odum Home office and loved it. She hopes to go to college to study business and someday return to work at Odum Home.

Home is important to Tracey. She hopes that the home she has found will never be far away. She sees herself returning as often as she can.

“Love is home,” she confides. “Home is where people appreciate and care about you. Home is here!”