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Alum Is Focused On Her Dreams

June 10, 2011

By J. Blake Ragsdale

Misty Sheets walks into the kitchen at Care House. It has been 18 years since the 34-year-old lived at the group home in Lenoir.

“Is this the same shelf?” Sheets says pointing to the wall. “I remember sitting at the kitchen table with the staff my first day here. Trent was wearing his striped overalls and hiding under that shelf.”

Nearly two decades later, Sheets has returned to Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) where she and her young son Trent found help. She is completing 15 volunteer credit hours at Care House for a college sociology course.

In 1993, the teenage mother was single and struggling. Sheets’ mother and step-father were immersed in challenges of their own. Sheets was desperate and had nowhere, and no one, who could help.

“My mother was an alcoholic and my step-dad was. . .well, he was cruel,” she recalls. “I had no job, no car, no license, no anything. I made the decision to keep my baby. It was hard, but I knew I needed to be responsible.”

A friend of Sheets was familiar with Care House and suggested she make a phone call. “The next thing I knew, I was here,” Sheets remembers.

Care House was a place where the young mother and Trent found support, stability and a Christian home.

“It’s monumental that this home has a strong Christian aspect to it,” Sheets says. “Even if the girls don’t see it while they are here, some piece will stick with them.”

Sheets carries many recollections with her from her days at Care House including memories of Christmas with her son, the comfort of being with other girls from similar circumstances, and the kindness of her staff.

“Care House was the most peaceful, stable time in my life,” Sheets reveals. “My staff members, Ruth and Rodney, were like my mom and dad. I remember sitting with them and just talking about anything. And it was here I started to take college courses.”

Care House was home to the small family for a year and a half. When Sheets left, the struggles of being a single mother resurfaced. “I was homeless and staying with friends,” she recalls. “My friends connected me with a job. I saved up $400 and bought my first car.”

In search of greater stability, Sheets married a childhood sweetheart and gave birth to her second son Mason. The couple’s marriage ended in 2007. Sheets, however, was determined to move forward and follow her dreams.

Just as BCH gave her the opportunity to take college courses as a resident, BCH is helping again by offering a place for her to volunteer to achieve her educational goals.

“I returned to school in 2008, and it’s taken me 18 years to get my two-year degree,” Sheets says. “I am at the point where, for the first time in my life, I can find out who I am. I put my dreams and goals on hold, but I’ve picked those things up off the shelf.”

Today, Sheets lives in Hudson with her two sons. She and her mother have reestablished their relationship. Sheets attends community college during the day and works at night.

“I’ve been in a soup kitchen. I’ve been in a homeless shelter. I’ve been a teenage mother, but I don’t have to be just another statistic,” Sheets says.

Sheets graduates in May and plans to move to Boone where she will attend Appalachian State University’s accelerated nursing program. It’s not always been an easy journey, but Misty has never given up hope.

“It’s never too late,” Sheets says adamantly. “You can always pick yourself up, and dust yourself off. You just have to believe you can do it.”