“I grew up in an abusive household. The man my mom was married to would constantly get drunk and would beat my siblings and tell me how worthless, stupid and ugly I was. He had made a huge bruise on one of my sisters, caused my other sister to have an asthma attack and then said she was faking it, tried slamming my brothers head in the front door while choking him, and left a bruise on my brother. My mom refused to believe he did anything that bad to us, but she was also abused physically. She would not admit it until they got a divorce nine years later. . .

​Since I moved in with Brian & Dana, I have accepted Jesus into my life, was saved and was baptized. For the first time in my life I am not afraid to be myself, I am not afraid to let people get close to me, and I am learning to forgive and and to ask God for forgiveness. I finally feel like I belong somewhere, I actually feel like I am a part of a family. Not just here to do hard labor everyday to learn “discipline” like when I was young. I am no longer held back by my fears, and that feels amazing! It is all because someone took the time to help me break down my walls and I believe that person was being led by Jesus Christ. Nothing can compare!”

“Before I became a part of Dogwood Ranch, I found myself in a life where I was only trying to survive. I did not have any plans for when I was out of foster care, I just knew I wanted to be left alone. I was angry, hurt, and felt betrayed by those who I called my family. I had totally given up on being anybody important.

Then I was placed with Dogwood Ranch as a foster kid. I was hesitant at first, it honestly freaked me out how they could be so open with someone they barely even knew. But they taught me the value of love, acceptance, and family. They have truly given me a forever home. Because of their ultimate faith in me, I am able to attend college at a prestigious private university on a full ride scholarship so that I can get my degree in Social Work. I could never thank them enough.”

“Home is where memories are held, right? Even in the rusty railings and creaky stairs; there’s always a story. It all begins with the foundation and how it was built. A home like mine was built on lies, unfaithfulness and abuse. My home was beautiful on the outside. Beautiful and ever so bright, the front door hung tall and thick. Didn’t expect what you saw coming when you opened the mahogany wood door. Grey and white walls. Not a single picture of the so called family in sight. It was cold as a long winter day with no electricity. Bright as the white outside but dark and cold inside. As you walk up the stairs, each step with a story behind each creak, you try to grab the railing but there isn’t one besides the rusty nails of where it used to be. It’s hard to think, this is where I grew up. This was my childhood. This, this is my last memory. At the top of the stairs was my baby brothers room. There, in the corner, was his favorite toy truck. When it worked, it would make the sound of a fire truck as it rolled down the halls. The halls are empty now. Nothing but a broken rocking chair that belonged to my big sister when she wanted to rock her baby dolls to sleep. At the end of the hall, the door is closed. It leads to my room, the same room I was taken advantage of in. The room I spilled everything in and the room I was dragged from to never return. But here I am. As I push the door open, which seemed as if it was sealed, I take a step inside and shut the door again. I close my eyes before I have to take it all in and as I open them, I see it all. Memories flooding. There’s my desk where I had to do all of my science homework and draw when I needed an escape. It was the only room in the entire house that contained everything as I left it…

…I am a survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. My story isn’t about what hell I went through; it’s about what it’s like to have a safe place to stay. After 16 years of fighting to survive and moving from home to home, I finally gave up. I was left alone to figure out how to do this whole thing called ‘life’. Do you know what it’s like to love someone so immensely and them never loving you back, no matter how much you do for them. That was my growing up.
I never got the typical childhood. What I got was a stolen piece of candy or an ice cream sundae from Sonic because my brother walked there and told them it was my birthday. I never knew what a real family was. I could never decide who to believe, so I believed everything I heard. My mom remarried a man, who is in prison for the next 152 years. I came out, at 10 years old about the sexual abuse from our step father. That was when our lives began to change for good. I was headed nowhere fast. Four years and three residentials later, I had to go back home to my dad’s, even though I didn’t want to.

Since September of 2014, I lived with seven different people until March 2015, when I came into custody. I was at my breaking point; 6 weeks of skipping school and drugs were a big part of my life. That’s when the state noticed me and gave me a way out. With no place to go and no one to run to, I stayed at the emergency shelter. Living with someone I had never met was not unusual for me, although, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet my foster parents, Brian and Dana, before I made the decision to move in with them. This is my family now and this is my new beginning. Out of everywhere I’ve been, out of everything I’ve seen, this is the place I feel more loved than I have ever been loved before. These people showed me what it’s like to actually feel good about yourself and the people around you and most of all what love is. I’m still going strong because there is something good that will come of it. I’ll just have to sit and watch what God will do. In my lifetime, whenever it shall end, I plan on living a legacy. Showing others that you have a purpose and what happens, happens. You can’t change that, you can only get stronger. I’ve learned to not dwell on the past, to get the hell over it and realize what is yet to come. This isn’t the life I was meant to lead nor live. I will not show weakness and I will not show mercy. I have just began living and I will not stop until my legacy of fulfilling my purpose is accomplished. My purpose which God has given me. I made a choice that no one can affect my life, not unless I let them. There are only a few special people in my life that broke down my wall and got to the center. Only the ones I trust and love.    The end is only the beginning…”