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Whitney Finds New Reason

June 2, 2009

Baby’s giggles float on the cool morning breeze. The sweet smell of red roses captures the senses as the sun breaks through the pines standing in a row along the backyard fence line. Whitney is far from the raw, dangerous life that was swallowing her. She was spiraling downward into a life of despair and hopelessness.

Twenty-year-old Whitney’s life is a tale of stark contrasts. The friendly, young woman with a contagious smile and vivacious spirit tells a story of a past filled with abuse, abandonment and fear.

“I was caught up in a world that destroys people,” Whitney says. “If I was still living that life, my days would be numbered.”

The cosmetology student works at a local restaurant and is saving to buy a car to replace the clunker she owns now. She pays her bills and manages her checking account.

Whitney’s desire to bring about change in her life is deeply rooted in the love she has for her one-year-old daughter Queriana. Her daughter is her reason to let go of the past.

Queriana and Whitney have lived at Baptist Children’s Homes’ Care House in Lenoir for nearly a year. The service provides a unique mother/baby parent education program in a group home setting. Single mothers learn parenting, vocational, and educational skills while living with their babies. Care House offers twenty-four hour group care and an on-site, five-star rated day care.

“I’m working hard to put my past behind me,” she asserts. “My past is about a life that I don’t want to be a part of any more. Being here has pushed me to be a better person. I’ve learned so many things I never knew.”

The oldest of eight siblings, Whitney was removed from her birth mother’s custody as a young child. Her mother’s life was filled with addictions. She could not care properly for Whitney – Whitney’s life was full of peril.

Whitney’s aunt took her away moving to North Carolina. She has good memories of loving care and a good home, but her aunt’s untimely death brought about harsh changes, and the slide began as she moved from one relative to another, to foster care and to the streets.

The change that has occurred in her life is the result of her strong spirit, her determination to survive and the love and care of some very important people. There have been friends along the way that wouldn’t let her settle. They wouldn’t let her give up, and today are a constant encouragement.

”I thank God for keeping me safe,” Whitney says. “It hasn’t been me; He’s brought me to this place. He put people in my life to help me in the way I needed to go. He was the only one who could break me out.”

Life today for Whitney and Queriana if filled with routines. The couple wake each morning and get ready for a busy day. Whitney dresses her daughter and they eat breakfast together.

“I have learned how to prepare good food,” she says. “Queriana loves vegetables. She loves carrots and peas. She’s a good eater.”

Queriana spends time with a loving care provider while Whitney works and attends classes. They reunite with hugs and playtime before Whitney gives her baby an evening bath.

“I’m not a lazy person,” Whitney says confidently, “but I didn’t know how to provide – I couldn’t even take care of myself. Now, it’s different. I can give my daughter the love that was missing in my childhood. This is a once in a lifetime experience.”

Whitney is making plans to step out on her own. She hopes to rent an apartment near Care House. She is going to continue attending the church she attends now. Her focus is on the future.

“I know how to take care of Queriana,” she says. “For me to succeed, I’ve got to be more concerned about our future and move beyond my past.”

Whitney is amazed at the change in her life. However, she is cautious and determined to set the proper boundaries for herself.

“I’m not putting my daughter through the same storms that I went through,” she says. “I’ve grown.”