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Tough Times Can't Hold Barbara Back

August 29, 2007

By W. James Edminson

Monica Courtney’s phone rings. She answers the phone with a joyful greeting not realizing the severity of the caller’s needs.

“Miss Monica, I’ve been in an accident,” Barbara whispers on the other end of the line.

Monica leaves immediately and heads to the community hospital. Driving to the hospital, she tells herself that things are alright. If it had been really bad, Barbara would not have been able to call herself.

Nineteen-year-old Barbara is visibly shaken. The bruises on her head and body are noticeable at first glance. The Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) resident wraps her arms around her child care worker Monica and they hug as the chaos of the emergency room bustles around them.

“I can’t believe I wrecked my first car,” Barbara says. “I just bought it.”

It is a harsh reality for a young person. But later as the two examine the damaged car, Barbara and Monica realize how much worse it could have been.

“You can’t help think, ‘What if?’” Barbara says. “But I know God was right there beside me.”

Barbara’s life has made a 180 degree turn around since coming to live at Kennedy Home in Kinston five years ago.

“I lived in numerous foster homes, and most of them were bad experiences,” she remembers. “I was shut down – I was angry about the life I was forced to live.”

She was angry at the world, and when she first came to Kennedy Home her frustrations were revealed in her actions.

“I did a lot of fighting at first,” she says. “My behavior was awful!”

Monica was there when Barbara first arrived.

“To see her now, you could never imagine the way she was,” Monica says. “She was a hard person to get to know then.”

But that didn’t stop Monica from trying. She redirected Barbara’s behavior and encouraged Barbara to let go of her past. She taught her that she could not blame herself for the situations she could not control.

“Nobody can love you unless you love yourself,” Monica asserts.

Barbara was always told that she would not amount to anything. The people in her life before BCH constantly found fault with her every action.

“I used to put myself down,” she confides. “I thought there was something wrong with me.”

Barbara looks in the mirror today and sees a different person. She is more confident and is now a positive leader on campus. Children look up to her, and she is like a “big sister” to many.

“Kennedy Home is home to me,” she confides. “I feel that I will always be welcome here.”

Barbara attends the local community college and will transfer in January to Mt. Olive College – Monica’s alma mater. She dreams of earning a degree in psychology and is intent on receiving her masters and doctorate.

“I want to go as far as I can go,” she says. “I’m a good student, and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Barbara pushes herself hard. She is focused.

Monica is proud of Barbara. She encourages Barbara and the other children at Kennedy Home to always make the best of every situation. She constantly reminds the children that if they choose to be unhappy, then they will be unhappy.

“Miss Monica is important in everybody’s life,” Barbara says. “She’s the type of person that when she speaks you want to listen.”

Barbara is thankful for her life today. She gives God the glory when she considers where she has come from and who she is today.

“I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like,” Barbara reflects. “God brings you through tough things.”

And there are plans to replace her wrecked car with a new one as soon as she can afford it.