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Transitional Living Service Lifts Casey

March 26, 2008

By J. Blake Ragsdale

Casey walks outside Noel Home. There’s excitement in her voice as she talks about how her life has changed during her seven months living at the group home in Lenoir. As she walks in the bright sunshine, Casey carefully steps over tree branches strewn about the yard during the previous night’s rainstorm.

Today, the storm clouds in Casey’s life have cleared, and her future beams as brightly as her wide smile.

Eighteen-year-old Casey first arrived at Baptist Children’s Homes’ Noel Home in July 2007, the relationship between the teenager and her parents was rocky and uncertain.

“My dad and I didn’t get along,” Casey describes. “I refused to listen to my parents. I was bull-headed. I was going to do what I wanted to do, and that was it!”

In fact, the situation at home was so dire that the opportunity for Casey to reconcile with her mother and father looked grim. The parents sought help for their daughter through Noel Home.

“I was so angry,” Casey remembers. “I did not want to live here. But as I look back, the good things that are happening couldn’t have happened if I hadn’t come.”

Casey struggled with religion and her understanding of God. But a turning point occurred through discussions with Noel Home caregiver Gloria Rose and other Christian friends.

“The wheels really started turning, and I wanted to find out what was really going on so I started reading the Bible,” Casey explains. She made a decision for Christ late last year. “God put people in my way like Ms. Gloria to help me. And that’s when everything started changing.”

In addition to Casey’s spiritual change, Noel Home underwent a change of its own. In January, the group home implemented a new service for transitional living residents. This unique service provides care, counseling and life-skills education for older girls aiding them to be successful and self-sufficient as they prepare for adult life. The new program was perfect for Casey.

“It makes you figure out what you’re going to do with your life,” she says. “And you learn about all the costs you have and how to budget. I now have a job, I’m paying for my phone, and Noel Home helps support me with all of that.”

The new service is helping the teen prepare for the future and teaching her the responsibilities of an adult life. Casey is saving her money to help pay for a car, insurance, and college in the coming months. These new responsibilities have helped her to flourish.

“I understand where my parents are coming from now,” she explains. “My parents haven’t changed – I have. I’m learning from my mistakes. I have to do my part now.”

Donna Lail, BCH’s Lenoir Area Family Services Director, has enjoyed seeing Casey’s progress. “The transitional living service has enabled Casey to get a taste of adult living as well as the ability to look at her family situation from an adult perspective,” she says. “On our end, we’ve had the blessing of watching it all happen.”

Casey is returning home, a goal that would’ve been impossible even a couple of months ago. Because of her success, Casey’s parents are committed to supporting her as she prepares for her future.

“Going home is going to be hard work,” Casey divulges. “But I’ve changed a lot, and I have the faith it’s going to work.”