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Sisters Share Hopeful Future

February 12, 2010

By W. James Edminson

They’re in the oven,” Joianne tells her sister Bria. The elder sibling is making fresh chocolate chip cookies. Bria loves warm cookies.

Fourteen-year-old Joianne and thirteen-year-old Bria have lived at Kennedy Home in Kinston for a little less than a year. The sisters have adjusted well, especially regarding their success in school.

“Each one has been at the top of their class,” Kennedy Home school liaison Alpha Herring says. “They work hard and excel.”

The sisters have always considered their schoolwork a priority.

“I enjoy school. I’ve always been like this,” Joianne says. “I’ve always done really well.” Her teachers affirm her for making good grades and for her behavior. “I behave in class. It’s the right thing to do. Teachers don’t need to be disrespected.”

Bria sees education as the path to reaching her dream of becoming an actor.

“I would like to attend Juilliard in New York,” she reveals. “I like school. I don’t know why, but I like to study and take tests.”

Besides both being good students, the sisters are similar in other ways.

“We love to laugh,” Bria says. “We laugh all the time.”

“We both like to have fun,” Joianne agrees.

Although the sisters are similar, they’re also different.

“Bria is very outgoing and I’m more down to earth,” Joianne says.

“Joianne is more reserved and I never let anything stop me,” Bria agrees.

Living at Kennedy Home has been a positive experience. The girls lived with foster families when they were first removed from their home by the Department of Social Services.

“Foster homes are good and help some children,” Joianne says. “But for me, Kennedy Home has been better.”

“There are people here who care about you.” Bria adds. “They work to influence us to live better lives. I’ve learned that life can be hard, so it is important to take responsibility for your actions and make good choices.”

Both girls agree to not allow the heartache they’ve faced to deter them. Joianne talks about others who are hurting. She reflects on the many who are suffering after the earthquake in Haiti and asks, “Who will help them?”

“They don’t have the same resources we have in the United States,” she says. What if it was us?”

Bria and Joianne know what it is like to hurt. They are sensitive to other’s pain.

“If I could, I would organize an aid effort to help the people of Haiti,” Joianne continues. “People want to help. They just don’t know how to help.”

The sisters have turned their personal hardships into strengths.

“I try to stay positive.” Joianne says. “No one wants to have a pity-party.

“If faced with a problem, I want to solve it,” Bria says.

With the aroma of cookies filling the air, Joianne and Bria relax in the comfort of their cottages. They enjoy a nutritious dinner and feel safe. As they lay their heads on their pillows, they fall asleep confident that their future will be brighter than their past.