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Barbara Takes Swing At More Positive Life

April 30, 2007

By W. James Edminson

The red dirt from the softball field rises to the air as she kicks home plate with her cleat. Barbara squares up to the pitcher and waits. The ball speeds at her, she swings and connects the ball with the aluminum bat. Clank! She releases the bat and it flies down the third base line. Her coach shakes his head.

“I’m working to just let the bat go and drop to the ground,” Barbara confesses. “They don’t like it when I fling it like that.”

The fifteen-year-old excels at sports. She has already signed up to try out for almost every sport her freshman year at the area high school.

“I didn’t sign up for track,” she laughs. “It’s just running.”

She hopes next year to play volleyball, soccer, basketball, and her favorite sport softball. “I love to play everything,” she says. “I love to watch football, but I love to play softball the most.”

Barbara lives at Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Noel Home near Lenoir. Noel Home serves Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Watauga, and Wilkes counties.

The group home provides care for teenage girls and their families who struggle with problems that require a structured environment. Noel Home provides clarification/value change and after care services.

Barbara has more serious, bad habits other than slinging her softball bat. One that has been particularly hard for her to break is skipping school. She has missed as many as 34 days of school in one year.

“Before coming, I missed so much school that I was making straight ‘Fs,’” she says. “Now I make ‘As’ and ‘Bs.’”

Hanging out with a friend when she was twelve, she was coaxed into trying marijuana. Drugs were easy to acquire. She began to smoke pot regularly.

Barbara was making poor decisions. She needed the stability that BCH offers. She needed to be held accountable for her actions. Today, she is glad that her drug use is behind her.

Barbara is described by one child care worker at Noel Home as “our diamond in the rough.”

“She is so intelligent and a born leader,” Noel Home child care worker Janita Wiegel affirms. “She needed Noel Home.”

Barbara was quiet when she was told what her child care worker had said. “I’m not sure about the ‘leader,’ but I am easy to talk to and the other girls come to me if they need to talk.”

“She has a loyal soul,” Wiegel continues. “If you’re her friend, you are her friend for life.” The youngest sibling in her family, Barbara never shared a bedroom before living at Noel Home. When she was assigned to a room with a roommate, she was not happy. As time passed, she grew to love sharing her room. She doesn’t have a roommate now but is looking forward to another girl moving into the group home soon.

Barbara is growing as a person. She sees the value of living at Noel Home and is working to make better decisions for her life. She is taking the opportunity she has, and she is setting healthier lifestyle goals.

“I’m learning the importance of getting a good education,” Barbara says. “It’s important to go to school.”

She is looking forward to high school and is making plans to become a respiratory therapist one day. She smiles big when she talks about learning to drive and getting her own driver’s license.

“Barbara grasps things so quickly,” Wiegel says. “She has the potential to make something great out of her life.”