The beautiful red bejeweled gown caught Teryn’s eye. She reached for the hanger and taking it from the rack, she was smitten. But there were more dresses to see and to imagine wearing. The local store owner offered the Mills Home teen resi- dents a free prom gown. As the girls shopped, Teryn kept looking back to the gown that had first captured her attention. It was dazzling.
“I was on the field that night as one of the finalists,” Teryn remembers. “When the first runner up was announced and it wasn’t me –– I couldn’t breathe. Then my name was called. I was chosen Homecoming Queen.”
When Teryn entered foster care at age 13, becoming Homecoming Queen was far from anything she could have dreamt.
“I never knew my father,” she says, “and my mother’s life fell apart. This was not what I wanted. It just happened and I was scared, sad and mad –– all wrapped up together.”
Teen placements in foster care are not always a success. It can be difficult to find the right match for teen and foster family. After multiple placements, Teryn needed a new solution.
“I did well in school and some of the homes where I lived were good experiences,” Teryn says, “but I kept being moved. I was 16 when I came to Mills Home.”
Teryn recalls riding in the car to Thomasville. She was told that she was going to live in a group home. “All I could think about was ‘what is happening to me’.” “I didn’t talk to anyone.” she says. “I remember everyone being great, but it didn’t matter. It was very difficult. I couldn’t help it, but I was afraid. I even slept with my room’s lamp on at night.”
Teryn’s fears turned to acceptance.
“I got into a routine. It was summer and there were activities –– fun things to do and I began to make friends.”
Knowing she was not going to move again and feeling safe in her cottage, Teryn thrived. She connected with her cottage parents and the girls in her cottage. Now a senior, Teryn talks about her future and discusses college.
One day last fall, she came home from school with the idea of running for Homecoming Queen.
“For one of our girls to take on such a big challenge, everyone has to step up,” Mills Home director of family work Andrea Walker says.
Teryn put together a campaign and her cottage parents, case manager and other staff members pitched in and helped wherever they could. Cup- cakes baked, posters made and “Vote for Teryn” stickers created made it official. Teryn was running for Thomasville High School Home- coming Queen.
“It made me feel really good when everyone came together to help me,” Teryn says. “To be where I am today –– looking back from where I was only a few years ago –– it is truly amazing.”
When Teryn made Homecoming Court, she was told that she could choose two people to escort her. She chose cottage mate and best friend Twinka first. Walker was deeply honored when Teryn asked her to join them.
“You can’t help but be proud of Teryn,” Walker says. “Children who come to us have to overcome such hardship. There are days that I find myself speechless in the light of what God does in their lives.”
Teryn is hopeful. She is working hard.
“I never wanted to be in a group home, no one would,” Teryn says. “But it has been good for me. God has given me an incredible future. There are days when I need to pinch myself to remind me it is all real.”
Article Written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor