She is desperate. Her heart pounds as the screams call her to do something to help her mother. Eleven-year-old Keneisha tears at the screen of the front window, climbs through and jumps between her father’s knife and her mom.
Audrey lies on the floor with nine stab wounds in all, the final thrust of the blade piercing her right lung. Her daughter stands above her, with only a slight cut to her arm, and the attack ends.
Violence had crept into Keneisha’s life with her father’s alcohol abuse. The arguing between her parents and seeing the abuse her mom suffered became the girl’s constant nightmare. Things became so bad that Audrey was forced to take her daughter from the home and find refuge at a domestic violence shelter.
“I had called that day, and we were only going to pick up a few things we needed,” Audrey recounts almost one year later. “It was early and Keneisha was with me. I never imagined this would happen.”
While her mom recovered for more than a week in the hospital, Keneisha lived with her aunt. The duo’s life was turned upside down. Keneisha’s father was arrested, faced trial and eventually was incarcerated
Audrey was terrified to learn that her daughter was placed in such danger to save her life. She determined to never place her in such peril again. Learning about Family Care and coming to live at Smith Home has been the beginning to the daughter and mother’s new life.
“Being with my mom and being safe has made our life so much better,” Keneisha says smiling softly.
The seventh grader is resilient. She is focusing on improving her grades and is a percussionist in her school’s band.
The Claude and Lois Smith Family Care Home in Marston is a residential group home for hard-working single mothers and their children. The Smith Home, which opened in Fall 2015, is a part of Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Family Care residential program.
The Smith Home helps single mothers in the northeastern part of the state by providing a structured transitional environment that promotes relational development between mother and child as well as needed resources to help the family regain control of their lives.
One of the first memories Keneisha has after moving to Smith Home with her mom in August 2018 was her surprise birthday party. She was turning 12, everything was new and they were just settling in –– she didn’t expect much of a celebration. She was wrong.
“The other moms and their children were terrific,” Audrey says. “There was ice cream, a cake with candles, and gifts. We learned that we were a part of a new, big family.”
Teresa Cahoon is the Family Care worker at Smith Home and “Mama T” to Audrey.
“Mama T inspires me,” she says. “When I first came, I was drained –– my heart and my body. Mama T made sure that Keneisha had everything she needed. I was able to catch my breath and begin making plans for our future.”
It wasn’t long before Audrey had a job and was working toward receiving her GED. Everything was looking bright. What happened next, she could never have dreamed.
On December 7, what began as severe abdominal pains were only the precursor to extensive surgery and a long healing time.
“The support I have had these last two months has been great,” Audrey says. “While I was recuperating, I knew Keneisha was being taken care of and I could rest. My mind could rest while the rest of me healed.”
Smith Home has been a healing place for both mother and daughter. Keneisha is free to be a child, roller skating along the long driveway, playing games and talking to her girlfriend from school on the phone.
“I don’t worry anymore,” Keneisha smiles. I’m not afraid. I don’t worry about not having something I need.”
You can help make a difference in both Keneisha and Audrey lives as well as others served by Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina. Make an online donation today - click here to send your gift!