The celebration of the holidays and traditions we hold dear will look different for many of us this year. The past few months have been challenging. But they’ve taught us about resilience, about adapting, and about the necessity of looking for the good. The children we are honored to serve at our Bremwood and Beloit Residential Treatment Centers in Waverly and Ames have taught us a lot, too. They’ve given us so much good to celebrate, from the positive changes they have made to the work they have done to create brighter futures for themselves.
We want to lift up a story from 14-year-old Monica, a former resident at our Beloit campus. Because of the hard work she did with help from her LSI team, Monica is able to celebrate this holiday season at home with her loving foster family. Before she left Beloit, Monica wrote this letter to share with you:
“As a typical child, you would expect my life to be simple and sweet. But when I was younger, my life was not that way. I first came to Beloit at 8 years old, and I was the opposite of sweet. Before entering residential treatment, I had been bullied. I was abused. I was in and out of shelters. And I was done being nice.
Meanwhile, my parents had made bad choices and were not there for me when I needed them. While I was at Beloit, a judge decided to terminate their parental rights over me.
That decision affected me in so many ways. I no longer had an easy time trusting people. I could feel it impacting my behaviors toward others. But my Beloit team helped me to identify those struggles and begin sorting through my feelings so I could start making positive changes again.
I was at Beloit when I learned a foster family had been found for me. I was feeling hopeful, but also anxious and nervous. My struggle to trust others led me to think of reasons why this family would not be the perfect fit. After a few home visits with the family, I was able to leave Beloit. I’d been trying to get rid of those negative thoughts, but they were still there. After a few weeks of living with my foster family, I began sabotaging myself and the relationship they were trying to build with me.
I found myself back in residential treatment at another facility and a few years later, I came back through the doors of Beloit. All the anger I had built up came out toward my Beloit team. I would try running away every day, I was skipping school, and I would lash out at staff members. I didn’t care at all about my life.
Over the last few years, I had once again been in and out of residential treatment, eventually returning to Beloit for a third time earlier this year. At first, I could not see myself doing better this time around because of my past.
But I proved myself wrong.
I became a positive leader to other kids at Beloit, thanks to all the staff who had faith in me and stuck by my side.
I feel like a totally different person now. Another foster family became available to me and because I have changed, I am not going to let my past get in the way of my success.”
Monica’s LSI team continued to stand by her and now, she wants to become a role model for other kids to look up to. Monica joined the LSI team at Lutheran Day on the Hill, an advocacy day at the Iowa State Capitol. She joined church members, LSI supporters, and legislators to talk about issues that impact the child welfare system. Monica told her team that she decided she wants to be a representative when she grows up, so she can give back and “stand up for other kids like me.”
Monica is now thriving at home, thanks to our LSI supporters. Because of our generous partners across the state, our team members at Beloit and Bremwood are able to work 24-7 with children on campus to build a mental health treatment plan that works for them. They are able to overcome years of trauma and build the coping skills they need to thrive once they leave our care. You can make that positive change for Iowa children and teens. And we know there is more work that needs to be done.
When you make a gift to LSI this holiday season, it will be matched dollar-for-dollar from our match pool of $75,000 through December 31! You can double your impact on more Iowa children like Monica. Will you support LSI’s mission of hope and healing today?